Role of circular RNAs in colorectal tumor microenvironment

Jasni Viralippurath Ashraf, Varun Sasidharan Nair, Reem Saleh, Eyad Elkord*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a class of endogenous noncoding RNA, which were previously considered as a byproduct of RNA splicing error. Numerous studies have demonstrated the altered expression of circRNAs in organ tissues during pathological conditions and their involvements in disease pathogenesis and progression, including cancers. In colorectal cancer (CRC), multiple circRNAs have been identified and characterized as “oncogenic”, given their involvements in the downregulation of tumor suppressor genes and induction of tumor initiation, progression, invasion, and metastasis. Additionally, other circRNAs have been identified in CRC and characterized as “tumor suppressive” based on their ability of inhibiting the expression of oncogenic genes and suppressing tumor growth and proliferation. circRNAs could serve as potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, and therapeutic targets or vectors to be utilized in cancer therapies. This review briefly describes the dynamic changes of the tumor microenvironment inducing immunosuppression and tumorigenesis, and outlines the biogenesis and characteristics of circRNAs and recent findings indicating their roles and functions in the CRC tumor microenvironment. It also discusses strategies and technologies, which could be employed in the future to overcome current cancer therapy challenges associated with circRNAs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111351
JournalBiomedicine and Pharmacotherapy
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • CircRNA
  • Colorectal cancer
  • miRNA sponging
  • Splicing
  • Tumor microenvironment


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