A Highly Conserved Circular RNA Is Required to Keep Neural Cells in a Progenitor State in the Mammalian Brain

Cell Rep. 2020 Feb 18;30(7):2170-2179.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.083.


circSLC45A4 is the main RNA splice isoform produced from its genetic locus and one of the highest expressed circRNAs in the developing human frontal cortex. Knockdown of this highly conserved circRNA in a human neuroblastoma cell line is sufficient to induce spontaneous neuronal differentiation, measurable by increased expression of neuronal marker genes. Depletion of circSlc45a4 in the developing mouse cortex causes a significant reduction of the basal progenitor pool and increases the expression of neurogenic regulators. Furthermore, knockdown of circSlc45a4a induces a significant depletion of cells in the cortical plate. In addition, deconvolution of the bulk RNA-seq data with the help of single-cell RNA-seq data validates the depletion of basal progenitors and reveals an increase in Cajal-Retzius cells. In summary, we present a detailed study of a highly conserved circular RNA that is necessary to maintain the pool of neural progenitors in vitro and in vivo.

Keywords: RNA-seq; basal progenitor; circRNA; circular RNA; cortical development; neurogenesis; neuronal differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • RNA, Circular / metabolism*


  • RNA, Circular