Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(11):2438-2448. doi:10.7150/ijms.56457

Review

Circular RNAs in stem cell differentiation: a sponge-like role for miRNAs

Jian Zhou1*, Cheng Qiu2,3*, Zhihua Fan4,5*, Tianyi Liu3, Tang Liu1✉

1. Department of Orthopedics, The Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, 410011, P. R. China.
2. Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Qilu Hospital, Cheeloo College of Medicine, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong, 250012, P. R. China.
3. Cheeloo College of Medicine, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong, 250012, P. R. China.
4. Xiangya School of Medicine, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, 410013, P. R. China.
5. Department of Dermatology, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, 410008, P. R. China
*These authors contributed equally to this work.

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Citation:
Zhou J, Qiu C, Fan Z, Liu T, Liu T. Circular RNAs in stem cell differentiation: a sponge-like role for miRNAs. Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(11):2438-2448. doi:10.7150/ijms.56457. Available from https://www.medsci.org/v18p2438.htm

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Abstract

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are novel endogenous non-coding RNAs that play a critical role during cellular signal transduction, gene transcription and translation. With the rapid advancement of bioinformatics analysis tools and high-throughput RNA sequencing, numerous circRNAs with important biological features have been identified. They function as competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs) of microRNAs and as such exhibit the potential to act as biomarkers for stem cell differentiation. In the recent past, several studies have shown the involvement of circRNAs in stem cells differentiation. The present review summarizes the molecular characteristics, biogenesis and mechanisms of newly identified circRNAs in the differentiation of stem cells. In conclusion, circRNAs regulate the stem cells differentiation via their ambient binding efficacy to modulate miRNA expression, as well as related gene translation. We believe that this review will provide reference guidance for future studies on stem cell differentiation.

Keywords: CircRNA, stem cell differentiation, miRNA, sponges, ceRNA