PeerJ 2017 28;5:e2934. Epub 2017 Feb 28.
Department of Internal Medicine III and Klaus Tschira Institute for Integrative Computational Cardiology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany; Partner site Heidelberg/Mannheim, German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK), Heidelberg, Germany.
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) belong to a recently re-discovered species of RNA that emerge during RNA maturation through a process called back-splicing. A downstream 5' splice site is linked to an upstream 3' splice site to form a circular transcript instead of a canonical linear transcript. Recent advances in next-generation sequencing (NGS) have brought circRNAs back into the focus of many scientists. Since then, several studies reported that circRNAs are differentially expressed across tissue types and developmental stages, implying that they are actively regulated and not merely a by-product of splicing. Though functional studies have shown that some circRNAs could act as miRNA-sponges, the function of most circRNAs remains unknown. To expand our understanding of possible roles of circular RNAs, we propose a new pipeline that could fully characterizes candidate circRNA structure from RNAseq data-FUCHS: ll aracterization of circular RNA using RNA-equencing. Currently, most computational prediction pipelines use back-spliced reads to identify circular RNAs. FUCHS extends this concept by considering all RNA-seq information from long reads (typically >150 bp) to learn more about the exon coverage, the number of double break point fragments, the different circular isoforms arising from one host-gene, and the alternatively spliced exons within the same circRNA boundaries. This new knowledge will enable the user to carry out differential motif enrichment and miRNA seed analysis to determine potential regulators during circRNA biogenesis. FUCHS is an easy-to-use Python based pipeline that contributes a new aspect to the circRNA research.