Circular RNAs (circRNAs) represent a type of endogenous noncoding RNA generated by back-splicing events. Unlike the majority of RNAs, circRNAs are covalently closed, without a 5′ end or a 3′ poly(A) tail. A few circRNAs can be associated with polysomes, suggesting a protein-coding potential. CircRNAs are not degraded by RNA exonucleases or ribonuclease R and are enriched in exosomes. Recent developments in experimental methods coupled with evolving bioinformatic approaches have accelerated functional investigation of circRNAs, which exhibit a stable structure, a long half-life, and tumor specificity and can be extracted from body fluids and used as potential biological markers for tumors. Moreover, circRNAs may regulate the occurrence and development of cancers and contribute to drug resistance through a variety of molecular mechanisms. Despite the identification of a growing number of circRNAs, their effects in hematological cancers remain largely unknown. Recent studies indicate that circRNAs could also originate from fusion genes (fusion circRNAs, f-circRNAs) next to chromosomal translocations, which are considered the primary cause of various cancers, notably hematological malignancies. This Review will focus on circRNAs and f-circRNAs in hematological cancers.
Loelia Babin, Elissa Andraos, Steffen Fuchs, Stéphane Pyronnet, Erika Brunet, Fabienne Meggetto