Theranostics 2017; 7(17):4183-4191. doi:10.7150/thno.21299 This issue


Identifying and Characterizing circRNA-Protein Interaction

William W Du1, 2, Chao Zhang1, 2, Weining Yang1, Tianqiao Yong3, 4, Faryal Mehwish Awan1, 2, 5, Burton B Yang1, 2, 6✉

1. Sunnybrook Research Institute, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto;
2. Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto;
3. State Key Laboratory of Applied Microbiology Southern China, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Microbial Culture Collection and Application, Guangdong Institute of Microbiology, Guangzhou, 510070, China;
4. Yuewei Edible Fungi Technology Co. Ltd., Guangzhou, 510070, China;
5. Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), H-12 Islamabad, Pakistan;
6. Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Du WW, Zhang C, Yang W, Yong T, Awan FM, Yang BB. Identifying and Characterizing circRNA-Protein Interaction. Theranostics 2017; 7(17):4183-4191. doi:10.7150/thno.21299. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Circular RNAs have been identified as naturally occurring RNAs that are highly represented in the eukaryotic transcriptome. Although a large number of circRNAs have been reported, circRNA functions remain largely unknown. CircRNAs can function as miRNA sponges, thereby reducing their ability to target mRNAs. We hypothesize that circRNAs may bind, store, sort, and sequester proteins to particular subcellular locations, and act as dynamic scaffolding molecules that modulate protein-protein interactions. Here, we review the biological implication and function of circRNA-protein interaction, and reveal a dynamic model of the interaction in various tissues, development stages and physiological conditions. Improved techniques to identify and characterize the dynamic RNA-protein interactions may elucidate the molecular mechanisms associated with the expression and functional diversity of circRNAs.