A new study has shed light on the profiles and roles of circular RNAs in cervical cancer.
The study, published in Genomics, detected new targets in circular RNAs present in cervical cancers that influence tumour development.
Researchers from Sun Yat-sen University in China performed circular RNA (circRNAs) array and mRNA-sequencing to profile cervical cancer tissues. The team constructed a circRNA regulatory network in cervical cancer tissues to identify down- and up-regulated circRNA targets.
Cervical cancer and circular RNAs
Cervical cancer (CCa) is one of the most common gynaecologic diseases in females. In 2020, there were nearly 604,000 new cases and 342,000 deaths globally. Radiation and surgery are still the main treatment options for patients with CCa and the overall prognosis of CCa remains unsatisfactory.
Circular RNAs are non-coding RNA molecules. They are differentially expressed in various diseases, and are believed to a play critical role in various tumours. circRNAs exert their functions by serving as regulators for transcription, scaffolds for RNA binding proteins and translation templates for functional proteins or peptides.
However, the authors noted, “The exact function of circRNA-based regulatory network in cervical cancer development and progression is still elusive.”
Identifying differently regulated circRNAs
The researchers performed a circRNA array and detected the differentially expressed circRNAs (DE-circRNAs) in 6 cervical cancer tissues and 3 normal cervix tissues. None of the enrolled cervical cancer patients had radiotherapy or chemotherapy prior to surgery.
The team then screened out differentially expressed mRNAs via mRNA-Sequencing.
Next, the researchers constructed a competitive endogenous RNA network (ceRNA network) based on circRNA-miRNA and miRNA-mRNA interactions. They identified that hsa_circ_0026377 was significantly downregulated in CCa.
Gain-of-function assays showed that hsa_circ_0026377 inhibited CCa cells proliferation, migration and invasion. The authors propose that hsa_circ_0026377 might play a critical role in development and progression of CCa.
Despite the lack of abundant experiments in this area and small samples, the study has increased the understanding of circRNA networks in cervical cancer. The researchers also identified 10 hub genes that could act as potential therapeutic targets for future studies.
The researchers reported, “Our study not only elucidated a comprehensive circRNA-miRNA-mRNA regulatory network, but also confirmed a functional circRNA for cervical cancer.”
Written by Poppy Jayne Morgan, Front Line Genomics
Image Credit: Canva