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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 5936171, 13 pages
Research Article

Circular RNA Profiling and Bioinformatic Modeling Identify Its Regulatory Role in Hepatic Steatosis

1Department of Gastroenterology, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200092, China
2Department of Endocrinology, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200092, China
3Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children’s Digestion and Nutrition, Shanghai 200092, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Qin Pan and Jian-Gao Fan

Received 8 January 2017; Accepted 7 March 2017; Published 21 June 2017

Academic Editor: Elena Grasselli

Copyright © 2017 Xing-Ya Guo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Circular RNAs (circRNAs) exhibit a wide range of physiological and pathological activities. To uncover their role in hepatic steatosis, we investigated the expression profile of circRNAs in HepG2-based hepatic steatosis induced by high-fat stimulation. Differentially expressed circRNAs were subjected to validation using QPCR and functional analyses using principal component analysis, hierarchical clustering, target prediction, gene ontology (GO), and pathway annotation, respectively. Bioinformatic integration established the circRNA-miRNA-mRNA regulatory network so as to identify the mechanisms underlying circRNAs’ metabolic effect. Here we reported that hepatic steatosis was associated with a total of 357 circRNAs. Enrichment of transcription-related GOs, especially GO: 0006355, GO: 004589, GO: 0045944, GO: 0045892, and GO: 0000122, demonstrated their specific actions in transcriptional regulation. Lipin 1 (LPIN1) was recognized to mediate the transcriptional regulatory effect of circRNAs on metabolic pathways. circRNA-miRNA-mRNA network further identified the signaling cascade of circRNA_021412/miR-1972/LPIN1, which was characterized by decreased level of circRNA_021412 and miR-1972-based inhibition of LPIN1. LPIN1-induced downregulation of long chain acyl-CoA synthetases (ACSLs) expression finally resulted in the hepatosteatosis. These findings identify circRNAs to be important regulators of hepatic steatosis. Transcription-dependent modulation of metabolic pathways may underlie their effects, partially by the circRNA_021412/miR-1972/LPIN1 signaling.