Circular RNA CDR1as/ciRS-7 functions as an oncogenic regulator in various cancers. However, there has been a lack of systematic and comprehensive analysis to further elucidate its underlying role in cancer. In the current study, we firstly performed a bioinformatics analysis of CDR1as among 868 cancer samples by using RNA-seq datasets of the MiOncoCirc database. Gene ontology (GO), Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG), gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA), CIBERSORT, Estimating the Proportion of Immune and Cancer cells (EPIC), and the MAlignant Tumors using Expression data (ESTIMATE) algorithm were applied to investigate the underlying functions and pathways. Functional enrichment analysis suggested that CDR1as has roles associated with angiogenesis, extracellular matrix (ECM) organization, integrin binding, and collagen binding. Moreover, pathway analysis indicated that it may regulate the TGF-β signaling pathway and ECM-receptor interaction. Therefore, we used CIBERSORT, EPIC, and the ESTIMATE algorithm to investigate the association between CDR1as expression and the tumor microenvironment. Our data strongly suggest that CDR1as may play a specific role in immune and stromal cell infiltration in tumor tissue, especially those of CD8+ T cells, activated NK cells, M2 macrophages, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and endothelial cells. Generally, systematic and comprehensive analyses of CDR1as were conducted to shed light on its underlying pro-cancerous mechanism. CDR1as regulates the TGF-β signaling pathway and ECM-receptor interaction to serve as a mediator in alteration of the tumor microenvironment.
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