Abstract Background In recent years, circular RNAs (circRNAs), a new star of non-coding RNA, have been emerged as vital regulators and gained much attention for involvement of initiation and progression of diverse kinds of human diseases, especially cancer. However, regulatory role, clinical significance and underlying mechanisms of circRNAs in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) still remain largely unknown. Methods Here, the expression profile of circRNAs in 4 pairs of TNBC tissues and adjacent non-tumor tissues was analyzed by RNA-sequencing. Quantitative real-time PCR and in situ hybridization were used to determine the level and prognostic values of circAGFG1 in two TNBC cohorts. Then, functional experiments in vitro and in vivo were performed to investigate the effects of circAGFG1 on tumor growth and metastasis in TNBC. Mechanistically, fluorescent in situ hybridization, dual luciferase reporter assay, RNA pull-down and RNA immunoprecipitation experiments were performed to confirm the interaction between circAGFG1 and miR-195-5p in TNBC. Results We found that circAGFG1 was evidently up-regulated in TNBC, and its level was correlated with clinical stage, pathological grade and poor prognosis of patients with TNBC. The results indicated that circAGFG1 could promote TNBC cell proliferation, mobility and invasion as well as tumorigenesis and metastasis in vivo. Mechanistic analysis showed that circAGFG1 may act as a ceRNA (competing endogenous RNA) of miR-195-5p to relieve the repressive effect of miR-195-5p on its target cyclin E1 (CCNE1). Conclusions Our findings suggest that circAGFG1 promotes TNBC progression through circAGFG1/miR-195-5p/CCNE1 axis and it may serve as a new diagnostic marker or target for treatment of TNBC patients.
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