Circular RNAs in human and vertebrate neural retinas

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) belong to an endogenous class of RNA molecules with both ends covalently linked in a circle. Although their expression pattern in the mammalian brain has been well studied, the characteristics and functions of circRNAs in retinas remain unknown. To reveal the whole expression profiles of circRNAs in the neural retina, we investigated retinal RNAs of human, monkey, mouse, pig, zebrafish and tree shrew and detected thousands of circRNAs showing conservation and variation in the retinas across different vertebrate species. We further investigated one of the abundant circRNAs, circPDE4B, identified in human retina. Silencing of circPDE4B significantly inhibited the proliferation of human A549 cells. Functional assays demonstrated that circPDE4B could sponge miR-181C, thereby altering the cell phenotype. We have explored the retinal circRNA repertoires across human and different vertebrates, which provide new insights into the important role of circRNAs in the vertebrate retinas, as well as in related human diseases.