Detecting and characterizing circular RNAs.
Circular RNA transcripts were first identified in the early 1990s but knowledge of these species has remained limited, as their study through traditional methods of RNA analysis has been difficult. Now, novel bioinformatic approaches coupled with biochemical enrichment strategies and deep sequencing have allowed comprehensive studies of circular RNA species. Recent studies have revealed thousands of endogenous circular RNAs in mammalian cells, some of which are highly abundant and evolutionarily conserved. Evidence is emerging that some circRNAs might regulate microRNA (miRNA) function, and roles in transcriptional control have also been suggested. Therefore, study of this class of noncoding RNAs has potential implications for therapeutic and research applications. We believe the key future challenge for the field will be to understand the regulation and function of these unusual molecules.
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