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Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences
School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia
ISSN: 1394-195X
Vol. 21, No. 3, 2014, pp. 4-18
Bioline Code: mj14029
Full paper language: English
Document type: Review Article
Document available free of charge

Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, Vol. 21, No. 3, 2014, pp. 4-18

 en Small Circular DNAs in Human Pathology
BARRETO, Stephany Carolina; UPPALAPATI, Madhuri & RAY, Amitabha


  In general, human pathogen-related small circular deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecules are bacterial plasmids and a group of viral genomes. Plasmids are extra-chromosomal small circular DNAs that are capable of replicating independently of the host, and are present throughout a variety of different microorganisms, most notably bacteria. While plasmids are not essential components of the host, they can impart an assortment of survival enhancing genes such as for fertility, drug resistance, and toxins. Furthermore, plasmids are of particular interest to molecular biology especially in relation to gene-cloning. Among viruses, genomes of anelloviruses, papillomaviruses, and polyomaviruses consist of small circular DNA. The latter two virus families are known for their potential roles in a number of pathogenic processes. Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are now widely recognised to be associated with a greatly increased risk of cervical cancer, especially oncogenic strains 16 and 18. On the other hand, human cells may contain several types of small circular DNA molecules including mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The mitochondrial genome consists of 37 genes that encode for proteins of the oxidation phosphorylation system, transfer ribonucleic acids (tRNAs), and ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs). Though mitochondria can replicate independently of the host; nuclear DNA does encode for several mitochondrial proteins. Mutations in mtDNA contribute to some well characterised diseases; mtDNA is also implicated in several diseases and malignancies with poorly elucidated aetiologies. Furthermore, mtDNA can function as a diagnostic tool. Other extra-chromosomal circular DNAs are usually detected in cancer. This review article is intended to provide an overview of four broad categories of small circular DNAs that are present in non-eukaryotic (plasmids and relevant viral genomes) and eukaryotic (mtDNA and other extra-chromosomal DNAs) systems with reference to human diseases, particularly cancer. For this purpose, a literature search has been carried out mainly from PubMed. Improved understanding of the significance of small circular DNA molecules is expected to have far reaching implications in many fields of medicine.

episomes; cancer; HPV; mitochondrial DNA; plasmids; polyomavirus

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