Circular RNA Expression Profiles Alter Significantly in Mouse Brain After Transient Focal Ischemia

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Abstract

Background and Purpose—

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a novel class of noncoding RNAs formed from many protein-coding genes by backsplicing. Although their physiological functions are not yet completely defined, they are thought to control transcription, translation, and microRNA levels. We investigated whether stroke changes the circRNAs expression profile in the mouse brain.

Methods—

Male C57BL/6J mice were subjected to transient middle cerebral artery occlusion, and circRNA expression profile was evaluated in the penumbral cortex at 6, 12, and 24 hours of reperfusion using circRNA microarrays and real-time PCR. Bioinformatics analysis was conducted to identify microRNA binding sites, transcription factor binding, and gene ontology of circRNAs altered after ischemia.

Results—

One thousand three-hundred twenty circRNAs were expressed at detectable levels mostly from exonic (1064) regions of the genes in the cerebral cortex of sham animals. Of those, 283 were altered (>2-fold) at least at one of the reperfusion time points, whereas 16 were altered at all 3 time points of reperfusion after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion compared with sham. Postischemic changes in circRNAs identified by microarray analysis were confirmed by real-time PCR. Bioinformatics showed that these 16 circRNAs contain binding sites for many microRNAs. Promoter analysis showed that the circRNAs altered after stroke might be controlled by a set of transcription factors. The major biological and molecular functions controlled by circRNAs altered after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion are biological regulation, metabolic process, cell communication, and binding to proteins, ions, and nucleic acids.

Conclusions—

This is a first study that shows that stroke alters the expression of circRNAs with possible functional implication to poststroke pathophysiology.

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