bims-micpro Biomed News
on Discovery and characterization of microproteins
Issue of 2021‒05‒09
one paper selected by
Thomas Martinez
Salk Institute for Biological Studies

  1. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2021 Apr 30. pii: S0006-291X(21)00649-5. [Epub ahead of print]558 189-195
      In RNA field, the demarcation between coding and non-coding has been negotiated by the recent discovery of occasionally translated circular RNAs (circRNAs). Although absent of 5' cap structure, circRNAs can be translated cap-independently. Complementary intron-mediated overexpression is one of the most utilized methodologies for circRNA research but not without bearing echoing skepticism for its poorly defined mechanism and latent coexistent side products. In this study, leveraging such circRNA overexpression system, we have interrogated the protein-coding potential of 30 human circRNAs containing infinite open reading frames in HEK293T cells. Surprisingly, pervasive translation signals are detected by immunoblotting. However, intensive mutagenesis reveals that numerous translation signals are generated independently of circRNA synthesis. We have developed a dual tag strategy to isolate translation noise and directly demonstrate that the spurious translation signals originate from cryptically spliced linear transcripts. The concomitant linear RNA byproducts, presumably concatemers, can be translated to allow pseudo rolling circle translation signals, and can involve backsplicing junction (BSJ) to disqualify the BSJ-based evidence for circRNA translation. We also find non-AUG start codons may engage in the translation initiation of circRNAs. Taken together, our systematic evaluation sheds light on heterogeneous translational outputs from circRNA overexpression vector and comes with a caveat that ectopic overexpression technique necessitates extremely rigorous control setup in circRNA translation and functional investigation.
    Keywords:  Circular RNA; Circular RNA overexpression; Non-AUG translation; Rolling circle translation