Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have been detected in animal cells, but their function has been unclear. Two papers, from the laboratories of Nikolaus Rajewsky and Jørgen Kjems, have now defined a function for one circRNA that binds the microRNA miR-7. They find that this circRNA is replete with microRNA binding sites and can act as a 'sponge' capable of binding scores of miRNAs per circRNA molecule. These studies suggest a role for circRNAs in post-transcriptional regulation.
- Circular RNAs are a large class of animal RNAs with regulatory potency (Article p333, doi: 10.1038/nature11928)
- Circles reshape the RNA world (News & Views p322, doi: 10.1038/nature11956)
- Natural RNA circles function as efficient microRNA sponges (Letter p384, doi: 10.1038/nature11993)
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