1. Institute for Translational Medicine, Qingdao University, Qingdao 266021, China.
2. Henan Key Laboratory of Cancer Epigenetics, The First Affiliated Hospital and College of Clinical Medicine of Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang 471003, China.
3. Department of General Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang 471003, China.
Liver cancer is one of the most common malignant tumors in the world. Circular RNAs (circRNAs) perform important functions in cancer progression and are regarded as prospective biomarkers for cancer diagnosis and therapy. Here, we used the high-throughput RNA sequencing technology in conjunction with bioinformatics tools to profile circRNA expression in patients with HBV-related liver cancer. A total of 13,124 circRNAs were identified in HBV-related liver cancer, approximately 86.25% of which were sense-overlapping circRNAs. Moreover, 2,996 circRNAs exhibited different expression patterns between liver cancer tissues and matched pericancerous tissues. Function annotation indicated that these aberrantly expressed circRNAs were primarily engaged in cellular processes and cancer-associated pathways. Notably, the circRNA-miRNA interaction networks showed that 6,020 circRNAs were predicted to target 1,654 miRNAs. Quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) assay indicated that ten randomly selected circRNAs displayed consistent expression patterns with the sequencing results. We further predicted that circRNA_10156 might work as a molecular sponge of miR-149-3p, which served an important function in tumor development. Consequently, our results demonstrated that depletion of circRNA_10156 upregulated miR-149-3p, reduced Akt1 expression, and suppressed liver cancer cell proliferation. The present study will facilitate the elucidation of biological functions of circRNAs in the progression of HBV-related liver cancer providing prospective biomarkers and therapeutic targets for this disease. Our findings also reveal that circRNA_10156 might represent a promising therapeutic target for liver cancer management.
Keywords: Circular RNA, Liver cancer, High-throughput sequencing, Therapeutic target, Cancer biomarker