Knockout of circRNAs by base editing back-splice sites of circularized exons

Genome Biol. 2022 Jan 10;23(1):16. doi: 10.1186/s13059-021-02563-0.


Many circular RNAs (circRNAs) are produced from back-splicing of exons of precursor mRNAs and are generally co-expressed with cognate linear RNAs. Methods for circRNA-specific knockout are lacking, largely due to sequence overlaps between forms. Here, we use base editors (BEs) for circRNA depletion. By targeting splice sites involved in both back-splicing and canonical splicing, BEs can repress circular and linear RNAs. Targeting sites predominantly for circRNA biogenesis, BEs could efficiently repress the production of circular but not linear RNAs. As hundreds of exons are predominantly back-spliced to produce circRNAs, this provides an efficient method to deplete circRNAs for functional study.

Keywords: Back-splicing; Base editor; Circular RNA; Knockout; Predominantly back-spliced exon; Splicing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Exons
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA Splicing*
  • RNA, Circular*


  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA, Circular
  • RNA