Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the most common gastrointestinal malignancy and a leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. More than half of CRC patients develop metastatic disease (mCRC) with an average 5-year survival rate of 13%. Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have recently emerged as important tumorigenesis regulators; however, their role in mCRC progression remains poorly characterized. Further, little is known about their cell-Type specificity to elucidate their functions in the tumor microenvironment (TME). To address this, we performed total RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) on 30 matched normal, primary and metastatic samples from 14 mCRC patients. Additionally, five CRC cell lines were sequenced to construct a circRNA catalog in CRC. We detected 47 869 circRNAs, with 51% previously unannotated in CRC and 14% novel candidates when compared to existing circRNA databases. We identified 362 circRNAs differentially expressed in primary and/or metastatic tissues, termed circular RNAs associated with metastasis (CRAMS). We performed cell-Type deconvolution using published single-cell RNA-seq datasets and applied a non-negative least squares statistical model to estimate cell-Type specific circRNA expression. This predicted 667 circRNAs as exclusively expressed in a single cell type. Collectively, this serves as a valuable resource, TMECircDB (accessible at https://www.maherlab.com/tmecircdb-overview), for functional characterization of circRNAs in mCRC, specifically in the TME.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberzcad021
JournalNAR Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023


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