Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a deadly cancer worldwide associated with limited therapeutic options. A recent study published in Clinical Science by Wang and colleagues [Clin. Sci. (2019) 133(18), 1935–1953] brought new perspectives to CCA management and therapy by focusing on circular RNAs (circRNAs). CircRNAs belong to an emerging class of functional non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) regulating numerous biological processes. Notably, circRNAs have been associated with cancer onset and progression, although reports in CCA are very limited so far. In this work, the expression of circular RNA circ-0000284 (aka circHIPK3) was specifically elevated in CCA cell lines, human tumor tissues and plasma exosomes. Gain and loss of function approaches were performed to better understand the molecular mechanisms regulated by circ-0000284. Notably, the authors evaluated the role of circ-0000284 as a microRNA (miRNA) sponge. By prediction analysis and functional tests, a direct interaction was demonstrated with miR-637 that targets lymphocyte antigen-6 E (LY6E). Increased expression of circ-0000284 was associated with enhanced migration, invasion and proliferation of CCA cell lines. Interestingly, exosomal-mediated circ-0000284 was reported to exhibit pro-oncogenic effects on surrounding normal cells. Altogether, these data highlight circRNAs not only as new players in CCA pathogenesis but also as promising molecules for innovative non-invasive biomarkers, as circRNAs are enriched and stable in exosomes. Further investigations on extracellular vesicles should provide the necessary tools to improve CCA diagnosis, and move toward targeted-therapies.

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