BackgroundMany circRNAs have been reported to play important roles in cancer development and have the potential to serve as a novel class of biomarkers for clinical diagnosis. However, the role of circRNAs in esophageal carcinoma (EC) remains unclear. In the current study, we investigated the potential role of circPVT1 in esophageal carcinoma.MethodsQuantitative real-time PCR was performed to detect circPVT1 levels. CircPVT1-specific siRNA or plasmids were used to knock down or overexpression the target RNA. Hoechst Staining was implemented to evaluate the ratio of cell apoptosis. Transwell migration assays were carried out to study the effects of circPVT1 on esophageal squamous cell carcinoma cell invasion. RegRNA 2.0 was used for bioinformatics analysis. The expression levels of Pax-4, Pax-6, PPARα and PPAR-γ were assessed using Western blot.ResultsIn the present study, we demonstrated a significant up-regulation of circPVT1 levels in EC tissues and cancer cell lines. The levels of circPVT1 decreased significantly when the cells were maintained to over-confluence. These results suggested a potential role for circPVT1 in cell proliferation. In addition, overexpressing circPVT1 in TE-10 cell promoted invasive ability of cancer cell. In contrast, siRNA knockdown of circPVT1 inhibited this phenomenon, leading to increased apoptosis levels of TE-10 cell. What’s more, miR-4663 had the effect of inhibiting tumor growth by downregulated Paxs and upregulated PPARs. Whereas, after the addition of circPVT1, this effect no longer worked, suggesting that circPVT1 may affect the malignancy of the tumor by affecting miRNA and regulating the levels of Paxs and PPARs.ConclusionsCollectively, our study reveals a critical role for circPVT1 in esophageal carcinoma, which may provide new insights of this circRNA as a biomarker for the diagnosis and treatment target of EC.