Going circular: history, present, and future of circRNAs in cancer

Giuseppina Pisignano, David Michael, Tanvi Visal , Radu Pirlog , Michael Ladomery, George Calin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)


To date, thousands of highly abundant and conserved single-stranded RNA molecules shaped into ring structures (circRNAs) have been identified. CircRNAs are multifunctional molecules that have been shown to regulate gene expression transcriptionally and post-transcriptionally and exhibit distinct tissue- and development-specific expression patterns associated with a variety of normal and disease conditions, including cancer pathogenesis. Over the past years, due to their intrinsic stability and resistance to ribonucleases, particular attention has been drawn to their use as reliable diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. However, there are some critical caveats to their utility in the clinic. Their circular shape limits their annotation and a complete functional elucidation is lacking. This makes their detection and biomedical application still challenging. Herein, we review the current knowledge of circRNA biogenesis and function, and of their involvement in tumorigenesis and potential utility in cancer-targeted therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Early online date16 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

GAC is the Felix L. Haas Endowed Professor in Basic Science. Work in GAC’s laboratory is supported by NCI grants 1R01 CA182905-01 and 1R01CA222007-01A1, NIGMS grant 1R01GM122775-01, DoD Idea Award W81XWH-21-1-0030, a Team DOD grant in Gastric Cancer W81XWH-21-1-0715, a Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Moonshot Flagship project, a CLL Global Research Foundation 2019 grant, a CLL Global Research Foundation 2020 grant, a CLL Global Research Foundation 2022 grant, The G. Harold & Leila Y. Mathers Foundation, two grants from Torrey Coast Foundation, and a Development Grant associated with the Brain SPORE 2P50CA127001. THV is the recipient of the Dr. John J. Kopchick Research Fellowship


  • CircRNAs
  • Cancer
  • Biogenesis
  • Biomarkers
  • Therapeutic targets


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