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BodyMap transcriptomes reveal unique circular RNA features across tissue types and developmental stages

By Tong Zhou, Xueying Xie, Musheng Li, Junchao Shi, Jin J. Zhou, Kenneth S. Knox, Ting Wang, Qi Chen, Wanjun Gu

Posted 17 Jul 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/370718 (published DOI: 10.1261/rna.067132.118)

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a novel class of regulatory RNAs. Here, we present a comprehensive investigation of circRNA expression profiles across 11 tissues and 4 developmental stages in rats, along with cross-species analyses in humans and mice. Although positively correlated, circRNAs exhibit higher tissue specificity than cognate mRNAs. Also, genes with higher expression levels exhibit a larger fraction of spliced circular transcripts than their linear counterparts. Intriguingly, while we observed a monotonic increase of circRNA abundance with age in the rat brain, we further discovered a dynamic, age-dependent pattern of circRNA expression in the testes that is characterized by a dramatic increase with advancing stages of sexual maturity and a decrease with aging. The age-sensitive testicular circRNAs are highly associated with spermatogenesis, independent of cognate mRNA expression. The tissue/age implications of circRNAs suggest that they present unique physiological functions rather than simply occurring as occasional by-products of gene transcription.

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