Circular RNA-related CeRNA network and prognostic signature for patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma
Background: Circular RNA (circRNA) has an important influence on oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) progression as competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs). However, the link between ceRNAs and the OSCC immune microenvironment is unknown. The research aimed to find circRNAs implicated in OSCC carcinogenesis and progression and build a circRNA-based ceRNA network to create a reliable OSCC risk prediction model. Methods: The expression profiles of circRNA in OSCC tumors and normal tissues were assessed through RNA sequencing. From the TCGA database, clinicopathological data and expression patterns of microRNAs (miRNAs) and mRNAs were obtained. A network of circRNA-miRNA-mRNA ceRNA was prepared according to these differentially expressed RNAs and was analyzed through functional enrichment. Subsequently, based on the mRNA in the ceRNA network, the influence of the model on prognosis was then evaluated using a risk prediction model. Finally, considering survival, tumor-infiltrating immune cells (TICs), clinicopathological features, immunosuppressive molecules, and chemotherapy efficacy were analyzed. Results: Eleven differentially expressed circRNAs were found in cancer tissues relative to healthy tissues. We established a network of circRNA-miRNA-mRNA ceRNA, and the ceRNA network includes 123 mRNAs, six miRNAs, and four circRNAs. By the assessment of Genomes pathway and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes, it is found that in the cellular senescence, PI3K-AKT and mTOR signaling pathway mRNAs were mainly enrichment. An immune-related signature was created utilizing seven immune-related genes in the ceRNA network after univariate and multivariate analysis. The receiver operating characteristic of the nomogram exhibited satisfactory accuracy and predictive potential. According to a Kaplan-Meier analysis, the high-risk group’s survival rate was signally lower than the group with low-risk. In addition, risk models were linked to clinicopathological characteristics, TICs, immune checkpoints, and antitumor drug susceptibility. Conclusion: The profiles of circRNAs expression of OSCC tissues differ significantly from normal tissues. Our study established a circRNA-associated ceRNA network associated with OSCC and identified essential prognostic genes. Furthermore, our proposed immune-based signature aims to help research OSCC etiology, prognostic marker screening, and immune response evaluation.