© Liu et al. Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have been demonstrated to act as microRNA (miRNA) sponges and they play important roles in regulating gene expression through a circRNA-miRNA-gene pathway. The specific roles of circRNAs in the pathogenesis of cerebral ischemia, however, are still unclear. Thus, the aim of this study is to determine circRNA expression profiles in the ischemic brain after stroke, which was induced by 45 min of transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). The results from the circRNA microarrays revealed that 1027 circRNAs were significantly altered 48 hours after reperfusion in the ischemic brain compared with the sham group. Among them, 914 circRNAs were significantly upregulated, and the remaining 113 were significantly downregulated. In addition, the expressions of the three selected circRNAs, mmu_circRNA_40001, mmu_circRNA_013120, and mmu_circRNA_40806, were verified using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). After predicting their target genes, the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) and Gene Ontology (GO) analyses were further used to predict the associated significant cell signaling pathways and functions. The results show that the most enriched pathways are associated with the Rap1 signaling pathway and the Hippo signaling pathway, which regulate cell survival and death. Finally, we constructed an interaction network of circRNA-miRNA-target genes, including 13 miRNAs and their corresponding genes, indicating that changes in circRNA are associated with genes related with brain injury and recovery. In conclusion, circRNAs are complicated in the pathological development of brain injury after stroke, suggesting novel diagnostic and therapeutic targets for stroke therapy.
Liu, C., Zhang, C., Yang, J., Geng, X., Du, H., Ji, X., & Zhao, H. (2017). Screening circular RNA expression patterns following focal cerebral ischemia in mice. Oncotarget, 8(49). https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.21238