Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) is a rare malignant epithelial neoplasm that arises in secretory glands and commonly metastasizes to the lungs. MYBL1 is frequently overexpressed in ACC and has been suggested to be a driver of the disease. Here, we identified a circRNA derived from MYBL1 pre-mRNA that accompanied overexpression of MYBL1 in ACC. Overexpression of circMYBL1 was correlated with increased lung metastasis and poor overall survival in ACC patients. Ectopic circMYBL1 overexpression promoted malignant phenotypes and lung metastasis of ACC cells. Mechanistically, circMYBL1 formed a circRNA-protein complex with CCAAT enhancer binding protein beta (CEBPB), which inhibited ubiquitin-mediated degradation and promoted nuclear translocation of CEBPB. In the nucleus, circMYBL1 increased the binding of CEBPB to the CD44 promoter region and enhanced its transcription. In addition, circMYBL1 was enriched in small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) isolated from the plasma of ACC patients. Treatment with sEVs containing circMYBL1 in sEVs enhanced pro-metastatic phenotypes of ACC cells, elevated the expression of CD44 in human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells (HPMECs), and enhanced the adhesion between HPMECs and ACC cells. Moreover, circMYBL1 encapsulated in sEVs increased the arrest of circulating ACC cells in the lung and enhanced the lung metastatic burden. This data suggests that circMYBL1 is a tumor-promoting circRNA that could serve as a potential biomarker and therapeutic target in ACC.

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