Published online Feb 15, 2017. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v9.i2.62
Peer-review started: May 4, 2016
First decision: July 20, 2016
Revised: November 5, 2016
Accepted: December 13, 2016
Article in press: December 14, 2016
Published online: February 15, 2017
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world and the fourth principal cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Currently, there is a lack of low cost and noninvasive screening tests for CRC, becoming a serious health problem. In this context, a potential biomarker for the early detection of CRC has recently gained attention. Circular RNAs (circRNA), a re-discovered, abundant RNA specie, is a type of noncoding covalent closed RNAs formed from both exonic and intronic sequences. These circular molecules are widely expressed in cells, exceeding the abundance of the traditional linear mRNA transcript. They can regulate gene expression, acting as real sponges for miRNAs and also regulate alternative splicing or act as transcriptional factors and inclusive encoding for proteins. However, little is known about circRNA and its relationship with CRC. In this review, we focus on the biogenesis, function and role of these circRNAs in relation to CRC, including their potential as a new biomarker.
Core tip: Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are noncoding RNAs, characterized for its circularized shape. These circRNAs are abundant and might play important roles in cancer. In particular, they exhibit altered expression in colorectal cancer, and its activity as miRNA sponge might be involved in the control of cancer progression. Moreover, owing to their stability, could serve as diagnostic or predictive biomarkers for colorectal cancer.