Circular RNAs (circRNAs) belong to the family of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNA) that, unlike linear RNAs, are characterized by a covalently closed circular RNA structure lacking 5′ cap and 3′ poly-adenylated tails. circRNAs have a role in epigenetic regulation of downstream targets. circRNAs play a crucial role in regulating gene and protein expressions by acting as a microRNA (miRNA) sponge and RNA binding protein (RBP) sponge and interact with proteins to affect cell behavior. circRNA expression profiles differ between physiological and pathological states. Moreover, the expression patterns of circRNAs exhibit differences in a tissue-specific manner. Although investigations on circRNAs have been exploding nowadays, yet only a limited number of circRNAs are identified. Furthermore, further researches are needed to shed light on their functions and targets. Therefore, circRNAs are becoming vital as potential biomarkers that may be used for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. In this chapter, we review the current advancement of cirRNAs with regard to their biogenesis, biological functions, gene regulatory mechanisms, and implications in human diseases and summarize the recent studies on circRNAs as potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers based on existing knowledge.
Part of the book: Gene Expression and Phenotypic Traits