Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are covalently closed, single-stranded transcripts that are ubiquitously expressed in all eukaryotes and even prokaryotic archaea. Although once regarded as splicing artifacts, circRNAs are a novel class of regulatory molecules with diverse biological functions, including regulation of transcription, modulation of alternative splicing, and binding of miRNAs and proteins. The majority of studies of circRNAs have been performed in animals with a focus on the biogenesis, function, and mechanistic characterization of these molecules. In contrast, the study of circRNAs in plants is just emerging. Interestingly, recent circRNA profiling studies in model plant systems show distinct features of plant circRNAs compared with those from animals, including putative roles in stress response, differences in expression patterns, and novel biogenesis mechanisms. This provides a great opportunity to broaden our knowledge of circRNAs using plant model systems, such as Arabidopsis and rice, which are ideal for phenotypic characterization and genetic studies. In this review, we summarize current knowledge of plant circRNAs, discuss their identification and biogenesis, describe potential functions, and propose future perspectives for plant circRNA study.
- Genome-wide profiling