Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are class of non-coding RNAs formed by back-splicing events as loops, and could be found in all types of organisms. They play important and diverse roles in cell development, growth, and tumorigenesis, but functions of the majority of circRNAs remain enigmatic. Particularly functional phenotypes of great majority of circRNAs are not obvious. Here we randomly selected a circRNA circ-UBR5, which has no obvious functional phenotype in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells from our previous research findings, to explore its potential function in cells. Differential expression of circ-UBR5 was detected in paired samples of tumorous tissues and adjacent nontumorous tissues from 59 patients with NSCLC by real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reactions (qRT-PCRs). Results showed circ-UBR5 expression was significantly downregulated in NSCLC tissues (p < 0.001) and was correlated with tumor differentiation (p = 0.00126), suggesting circ-UBR5 might serve as an index of NSCLC differentiation. Our findings indicated circ-UBR5 could bind splicing regulatory factor QKI, KH domain containing RNA binding (QKI) and NOVA alternative splicing regulator 1 (NOVA1) and U1 small nuclear RNA (snRNA) in the nucleus, revealing circ-UBR5 might be a novel snRNA involved in RNA splicing regulatory process. Moreover, we first presented a highly efficient strategy for finding specific circRNA binding proteins using Human Protein Microarray (Huprot™ Protoarray).
Keywords: Circ-UBR5; Circular RNA; NOVA1; NSCLC differentiation; QKI; snRNA.
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