Research Paper Volume 12, Issue 17 pp 17271—17287

Profiling of circular RNAs in age-related cataract reveals circZNF292 as an antioxidant by sponging miR-23b-3p

Shuqi Liang1,2, *, , Shengqian Dou2,3, *, , Wenfeng Li4, , Yusen Huang2,3, ,

  • 1 Medical College of Qingdao University, Qingdao, China
  • 2 State Key Laboratory Cultivation Base, Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Shandong Eye Institute, Shandong First Medical University and Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences, Qingdao, China
  • 3 Qingdao Eye Hospital of Shandong First Medical University, Qingdao, China
  • 4 Department of Medical Oncology, the Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, Qingdao, China
* Equal contribution

Received: April 17, 2020       Accepted: June 29, 2020       Published: September 10, 2020
How to Cite

Copyright: © 2020 Liang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Age-related cataract (ARC) is one of the major causes of visual impairment and reversible blindness worldwide. Accumulating evidence has revealed that circular RNAs (circRNAs) are involved in multiple regulatory processes in various ocular diseases. However, the expression profile, regulatory roles, and underlying mechanisms of circRNAs in ARC remain largely unknown. Herein we deep-sequenced circRNAs of anterior lens capsules from normal and ARC lenses, and detected 23,787 candidate circRNAs. Of these, 466 were significantly differentially expressed, and a higher correlation in down-regulated circRNAs between ARC and diabetic cataract was observed compared with up-regulated ones. Subsequent bioinformatics analysis disclosed that certain differentially expressed circRNAs participated in oxidative stress and apoptosis-related signaling pathways in ARC. Notably, the level of circZNF292 was significantly decreased, while miR-23b-3p was significantly increased in ARC. The target region prediction and dual-luciferase reporter assays proved that circZNF292 acted as a competitive endogenous RNA to regulate the expression of anti-oxidative genes through competing with miR-23b-3p. Our results indicate that circZNF292, a down-regulated circRNA in the anterior lens capsule of ARC patients, may be involved in resistance to oxidative damage and apoptosis of lens epithelial cells by sponging miR-23b-3p, providing a potential target for prevention and treatment of ARC.


ARC: Age-related cataract; circRNAs: circular RNAs; LECs: lens epithelial cells; MREs: miRNA response elements; miRNA: microRNA; ceRNA: competitive endogenous RNA; RNA-Seq: RNA sequencing; ROS: reactive oxygen species; DC: diabetic cataract; AGO: Argonaute; AMPK: AMP-activated protein kinase; mTOR: mammalian target of rapamycin; 3’UTR: 3' untranslated regions; cDNAs: complementary RNAs; GO: Gene Ontology; KEGG: Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes; GAPDH: Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase.