Emerging Role of Circular RNAs in Cancer

Front Oncol. 2020 May 20:10:663. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2020.00663. eCollection 2020.


Circular RNAs (circRNAs), which are generated mainly from back-splicing of exons in precursor mRNAs (pre-mRNAs), are a novel class of endogenous covalently closed RNA molecules. Their functions as microRNA sponges, protein scaffolds, and modulators of transcription and splicing, as well as occasional templates for polypeptide production, are beginning to be recognized, though the investigation of circRNAs is in its infancy. circRNAs play critical roles in diverse cellular processes. Aberrant expression of circRNAs in malignancies sustains cellular growth and proliferation, promotes cellular invasiveness, and circumvents cellular senescence and death, suggesting their potential for exploitation as clinical biomarkers and therapeutic targets. In this review, we highlight recent progress in research on circRNAs in cancer, emphasizing the molecular mechanisms and potential clinical value of circRNAs.

Keywords: biomarker; cancer; circular RNAs; clinical application; molecular mechanism.

Publication types

  • Review