BackgroundPrecise quantification of microRNA is challenging since circulating mRNA and rRNA in the blood are usually degraded. Therefore, it is necessary to identify specific biomarkers for ovarian cancer. This study aimed to investigate candidate circular RNAs (circRNAs) involved in the pathogenic process of ovarian cancer after inhibition of chromodomain helicase DNA binding protein 1-like (CHD1L) and the corresponding mechanism.MethodsCHD1L mRNA-targeted siRNA was designed and induced a decreased level of CHD1L function in SK-OV-3 and OVCAR-3 cells observed via transwell and wound healing assays and assessment of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related protein expression by immunofluorescence (IF) and western blotting (WB). After decreasing the level of CHD1L, RNA-seq was conducted, and the circRNA expression profiles were obtained. cirRNAs were then selected and validated by PCR together with Sanger sequencing, fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), and reverse transcriptase-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). Selected circRNA function in vitro was adjusted via interference and overexpression and assessed via transwell assay, tube formation, and EMT-related protein assay by IF and WB; tumor formation in vivo was followed via hematoxylin and eosin (HE) staining and immunohistochemistry of EMT-related proteins. Based on the competing endogenous RNA prediction of circRNA targets, candidate miRNAs were found, and their downstream mRNAs targeted by the selected miRNA were identified and validated by luciferase assay. The functions of these selected miRNA and mRNA were then further investigated through transwell and WB assay of EMT-related proteins.ResultsCHD1L was significantly upregulated in ovarian cancer tissues and patients with higher expression of CHD1L had a shorter relapse-free survival (P < 0.001) and overall survival (P < 0.001). Inhibiting the level of CHD1L significantly decreased cell migration and invasion (P < 0.05), increased the expression of epithelial markers, and decreased the expression of mesenchymal markers. Following inhibition of CHD1L expression, RNA-seq was conducted and 82 circRNAs had significantly upregulated expression, while 247 had significantly downregulated expression. The circRNAs were validated by PCR, and hsa_circ_0008305 (circ-PTK2) was selected and further validated by Sanger sequencing, FISH, and RT-qPCR. Circ-PTK2 expression was significantly higher in the ovarian cancer tissues compared with normal ovary tissues (P < 0.001). By regulating the level of circ-PTK2 with siRNA and an overexpression vector, expression of circ-PTK2 was found to be positively correlated to cell migration and invasion. Overexpression of circ-PTK2 enhanced tumor formation and was correlated to expression of EMT pathway markers. Prediction of the target of circ-PTK2 was validated with dual luciferase assay and identified miR-639 and FOXC1 as the valid target of circ-PTK2 and miR-639, respectively. The RNA level of miR-639 was negatively correlated to cell proliferation and migration, whereas the mRNA level of FOXC1 was positively correlated to those processes. miR-639 mimics reversed the function of circ-PTK2 overexpression; however, interference of FOXC1 mRNA also reversed the function of circ-PTK2.Conclusionscirc-PTK2 is an important molecule in regulating the pathogenic processes of ovarian cancer via the miR-639 and FOXC1 regulatory cascade.