Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a novel class of endogenous non-coding RNAs characterized by a covalently closed-loop structure generated through a special type of alternative splicing termed back-splicing. Currently, an increasing body of evidence has demonstrated that 1) majority of circRNAs are evolutionarily conserved across species, stable, and resistant to RNase R degradation, and often exhibit cell-specific, and tissue-specific/developmental-stage-specific expression and can be largely independent of the expression levels of the linear host gene-encoded linear RNAs; 2) the biogenesis of circRNAs via back-splicing is different from the canonical splicing of linear RNAs; 3) circRNA biogenesis is regulated by specific cis-acting elements and trans-acting factors; 4) circRNAs regulate biological and pathological processes by sponging miRNAs, binding to RNA-binding protein (RBP), regulators of splicing and transcription, modifiers of parental gene expression, and regulators of protein translation or being translated into peptides in various diseases; 5) circRNAs have been identified for their enrichment and stability in exosomes and detected in body fluids such as human blood, saliva, and cerebrospinal fluids, suggesting that these exo-circRNAs have potential applications as disease biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets; 6) several circRNAs are regulated by oxidative stress and mediate reactive oxygen species (ROS) production as well as promote ROS-induced cellular death, cell apoptosis, and inflammation; 7) circRNAs have also emerged as important regulators in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, and cancers; 8) the potential mechanisms of several circRNAs have been described in diseases, hinting at their potential applications as novel therapeutic targets. In this highlight, we summarized the current understandings of the biogenesis and functions of circRNAs and their roles in ROS regulation and vascular inflammation-associated with cardiovascular and metabolic disease. (Word count: 272).
Published by Elsevier Inc.