Circular RNA ZFR accelerates non-small cell lung cancer progression by acting as a miR-101-3p sponge to enhance CUL4B expression

Background: Non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer. Circular RNA ZFR (circZFR) is an identified circular RNA (circRNA) that is correlated with cancer progression. However, the role of circZFR in NSCLC remains unknown. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the function of circZFR in NSCLC and the underlying mechanism.

Methods: The expression patterns of circZFR were determined using qRT-PCR in NSCLC samples and cell lines. The subcellular distribution of circZFR in NSCLC cells was analyzed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Cell proliferation was examined utilizing the CCK-8 assay. Cell migration and invasion were evaluated using the Transwell assay. We used the bioinformatics software TargetScan and miRanda to predict circRNA–miRNA and miRNA–mRNA interactions.

Results: Our results showed that circZFR expressions were significantly upregulated in NSCLC tissues and cell lines. Knockdown of circZFR significantly inhibited the cell proliferation, migration and invasion of NSCLC cells in vitro. Furthermore, we demonstrated that circZFR acted as a sponge to absorb microRNA-101-3p (miR-101-3p) and promoted cullin 4B (CUL4B) expression.

Conclusions: Collectively, our results demonstrated that circZFR exhibited a carcinogenic role by sponging miR-101-3p and regulating CUL4B expression in NSCLC. These findings provided evidence for understanding the role of circZFR in NSCLC tumourigenesis.