RNA in Exosomes and Extracellular-Vesicles (EVs)

The EV and exosomal RNA content

Obstacles and opportunities in the functional analysis of extracellular vesicle RNA - an ISEV position paper.
Mateescu B, Kowal EJ, van Balkom BW, Bartel S, Bhattacharyya SN, Buzás EI, Buck AH, de Candia P, Chow FW, Das S, Driedonks TA, Fernández-Messina L, Haderk F, Hill AF, Jones JC, Van Keuren-Jensen KR, Lai CP, Lässer C, Liegro ID, Lunavat TR, Lorenowicz MJ, Maas SL, Mäger I, Mittelbrunn M, Momma S, Mukherjee K, Nawaz M, Pegtel DM, Pfaffl MW, Schiffelers RM, Tahara H, Théry C, Tosar JP, Wauben MH, Witwer KW, Nolte-'t Hoen EN
J Extracell Vesicles. 2017 6(1): 1286095 -- eCollection 2017

The release of RNA-containing extracellular vesicles (EV) into the extracellular milieu has been demonstrated in a multitude of different in vitro cell systems and in a variety of body fluids. RNA-containing EV are in the limelight for their capacity to communicate genetically encoded messages to other cells, their suitability as candidate biomarkers for diseases, and their use as therapeutic agents. Although EV-RNA has attracted enormous interest from basic researchers, clinicians, and industry, we currently have limited knowledge on which mechanisms drive and regulate RNA incorporation into EV and on how RNA-encoded messages affect signalling processes in EV-targeted cells. Moreover, EV-RNA research faces various technical challenges, such as standardisation of EV isolation methods, optimisation of methodologies to isolate and characterise minute quantities of RNA found in EV, and development of approaches to demonstrate functional transfer of EV-RNA in vivo. These topics were discussed at the 2015 EV-RNA workshop of the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles. This position paper was written by the participants of the workshop not only to give an overview of the current state of knowledge in the field, but also to clarify that our incomplete knowledge - of the nature of EV(-RNA)s and of how to effectively and reliably study them - currently prohibits the implementation of gold standards in EV-RNA research. In addition, this paper creates awareness of possibilities and limitations of currently used strategies to investigate EV-RNA and calls for caution in interpretation of the obtained data.

Summary of the ISEV workshop on extracellular vesicles as disease biomarkers;
Meeting Report --
held in Birmingham, UK, during December 2017
Aled Clayton, Dominik Buschmann, J. Brian Byrd, David R. F. Carter, Lesley Cheng, Carolyn Compton, George Daaboul, Andrew Devitt, Juan Manuel Falcon-Perez, Chris Gardiner, Dakota Gustafson, Paul Harrison, Clemens Helmbrecht, An Hendrix, Andrew Hill, Andrew Hoffman, Jennifer C. Jones, Raghu Kalluri, Ji Yoon Kang, Benedikt Kirchner, Cecilia Lässer, Charlotte Lawson, Metka Lenassi, Carina Levin, Alicia Llorente, Elena S. Martens-Uzunova, Andreas Möller, Luca Musante, Takahiro Ochiya, Ryan C Pink, Hidetoshi Tahara, Marca H. M. Wauben, Jason P. Webber, Joshua A. Welsh, Kenneth W. Witwer, Hang Yin & Rienk Nieuwland
Journal of Extracellular Vesicles 2018 (7)1

This report summarises the presentations and activities of the ISEV Workshop on extracellular vesicle biomarkers held in Birmingham, UK during December 2017. Among the key messages was broad agreement about the importance of biospecimen science. Much greater attention needs to be paid towards the provenance of collected samples. The workshop also highlighted clear gaps in our knowledge about pre-analytical factors that alter extracellular vesicles (EVs). The future utility of certified standards for credentialing of instruments and software, to analyse EV and for tracking the influence of isolation steps on the structure and content of EVs were also discussed. Several example studies were presented, demonstrating the potential utility for EVs in disease diagnosis, prognosis, longitudinal serial testing and stratification of patients. The conclusion of the workshop was that more effort focused on pre-analytical issues and benchmarking of isolation methods is needed to strengthen collaborations and advance more effective biomarkers.

Two distinct extracellular RNA signatures released by a single cell type identified by microarray and next-generation sequencing.
Lässer C, Shelke GV, Yeri A, Kim DK, Crescitelli R, Raimondo S, Sjöstrand M, Gho YS, Van Keuren Jensen K, Lötvall J
RNA Biol. 2017 14(1): 58-72

Cells secrete extracellular RNA (exRNA) to their surrounding environment and exRNA has been found in many body fluids such as blood, breast milk and cerebrospinal fluid. However, there are conflicting results regarding the nature of exRNA. Here, we have separated 2 distinct exRNA profiles released by mast cells, here termed high-density (HD) and low-density (LD) exRNA. The exRNA in both fractions was characterized by microarray and next-generation sequencing. Both exRNA fractions contained mRNA and miRNA, and the mRNAs in the LD exRNA correlated closely with the cellular mRNA, whereas the HD mRNA did not. Furthermore, the HD exRNA was enriched in lincRNA, antisense RNA, vault RNA, snoRNA, and snRNA with little or no evidence of full-length 18S and 28S rRNA. The LD exRNA was enriched in mitochondrial rRNA, mitochondrial tRNA, tRNA, piRNA, Y RNA, and full-length 18S and 28S rRNA. The proteomes of the HD and LD exRNA-containing fractions were determined with LC-MS/MS and analyzed with Gene Ontology term finder, which showed that both proteomes were associated with the term extracellular vesicles and electron microscopy suggests that at least a part of the exRNA is associated with exosome-like extracellular vesicles. Additionally, the proteins in the HD fractions tended to be associated with the nucleus and ribosomes, whereas the LD fraction proteome tended to be associated with the mitochondrion. We show that the 2 exRNA signatures released by a single cell type can be separated by floatation on a density gradient. These results show that cells can release multiple types of exRNA with substantial differences in RNA species content. This is important for any future studies determining the nature and function of exRNA released from different cells under different conditions.

Evaluation of serum extracellular vesicle isolation methods for profiling miRNAs by next-generation sequencing.
Buschmann D, Kirchner B, Hermann S, Märte M, Wurmser C, Brandes F, Kotschote S, Bonin M, Steinlein OK, Pfaffl MW, Schelling G, Reithmair M
J Extracell Vesicles. 2018 7(1): 1481321 -- eCollection 2018

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are intercellular communicators with key functions in physiological and pathological processes and have recently garnered interest because of their diagnostic and therapeutic potential. The past decade has brought about the development and commercialization of a wide array of methods to isolate EVs from serum. Which subpopulations of EVs are captured strongly depends on the isolation method, which in turn determines how suitable resulting samples are for various downstream applications. To help clinicians and scientists choose the most appropriate approach for their experiments, isolation methods need to be comparatively characterized. Few attempts have been made to comprehensively analyse vesicular microRNAs (miRNAs) in patient biofluids for biomarker studies. To address this discrepancy, we set out to benchmark the performance of several isolation principles for serum EVs in healthy individuals and critically ill patients. Here, we compared five different methods of EV isolation in combination with two RNA extraction methods regarding their suitability for biomarker discovery-focused miRNA sequencing as well as biological characteristics of captured vesicles. Our findings reveal striking method-specific differences in both the properties of isolated vesicles and the ability of associated miRNAs to serve in biomarker research. While isolation by precipitation and membrane affinity was highly suitable for miRNA-based biomarker discovery, methods based on size-exclusion chromatography failed to separate patients from healthy volunteers. Isolated vesicles differed in size, quantity, purity and composition, indicating that each method captured distinctive populations of EVs as well as additional contaminants. Even though the focus of this work was on transcriptomic profiling of EV-miRNAs, our insights also apply to additional areas of research. We provide guidance for navigating the multitude of EV isolation methods available today and help researchers and clinicians make an informed choice about which strategy to use for experiments involving critically ill patients.

The impact of disparate isolation methods for extracellular vesicles on downstream RNA profiling.
Van Deun J, Mestdagh P, Sormunen R, Cocquyt V, Vermaelen K, Vandesompele J, Bracke M, De Wever O, Hendrix A.
J Extracell Vesicles. 2014 Sep 18;3 -- eCollection 2014.

Despite an enormous interest in the role of extracellular vesicles, including exosomes, in cancer and their use as biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, drug response and recurrence, there is no consensus on dependable isolation protocols. We provide a comparative evaluation of 4 exosome isolation protocols for their usability, yield and purity, and their impact on downstream omics approaches for biomarker discovery. OptiPrep density gradient centrifugation outperforms ultracentrifugation and ExoQuick and Total Exosome Isolation precipitation in terms of purity, as illustrated by the highest number of CD63-positive nanovesicles, the highest enrichment in exosomal marker proteins and a lack of contaminating proteins such as extracellular Argonaute-2 complexes. The purest exosome fractions reveal a unique mRNA profile enriched for translation, ribosome, mitochondrion and nuclear lumen function. Our results demonstrate that implementation of high purification techniques is a prerequisite to obtain reliable omics data and identify exosome-specific functions and biomarkers.

Importance of RNA isolation methods for analysis of exosomal RNA -- evaluation of different methods.
Eldh M, Lötvall J, Malmhäll C, Ekström K.
Mol Immunol. 2012 Apr;50(4): 278-86.

Exosomes are small RNA containing vesicles of endocytic origin, which can take part in cell-to-cell communication partly by the transfer of exosomal RNA between cells. Exosomes are released by many cells and can also be found in several biological fluids including blood plasma and breast milk. Exosomes differ compared to their donor cells not only in size but also in RNA, protein and lipid composition. The aim of the current study was to determine the optimal RNA extraction method for analysis of exosomal RNA, to support future studies determining the biological roles of the exosomal RNA. Different methods were used to extract exosomal and cellular RNA. All methods evaluated extracted high quality and purity RNA as determined by RNA integrity number (RIN) and OD values for cellular RNA using capillary electrophoresis and spectrophotometer. Interestingly, the exosomal RNA yield differed substantially between the different RNA isolation methods. There was also a difference in the exosomal RNA patterns in the electropherograms, indicating that the tested methods extract exosomal RNA with different size distribution. A pure column based approach resulted in the highest RNA yield and the broadest RNA size distribution, whereas phenol and combined phenol and column based approaches lost primarily large RNAs. Moreover, the use of phenol and combined techniques resulted in reduced yield of exosomal RNA, with a more narrow size distribution pattern resulting in an enrichment of small RNA including microRNA. In conclusion, the current study presents a unique comparison of seven different methods for extraction of exosomal RNA. As the different isolation methods give extensive variation in exosomal RNA yield and patterns, it is crucial to select an isolation approach depending on the research question at hand.

Selective release of circRNAs in platelet-derived extracellular vesicles.
Preußer C, Hung LH, Schneider T, Schreiner S, Hardt M, Moebus A, Santoso S, Bindereif A
J Extracell Vesicles. 2018 Jan 15;7(1):1424473

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a novel class of noncoding RNAs present in all eukaryotic cells investigated so far and generated by a special mode of alternative splicing of pre-mRNAs. Thereby, single exons, or multiple adjacent and spliced exons, are released in a circular form. CircRNAs are cell-type specifically expressed, are unusually stable, and can be found in various body fluids such as blood and saliva. Here we analysed circRNAs and the corresponding linear splice isoforms from human platelets, where circRNAs are particularly abundant, compared with other hematopoietic cell types. In addition, we isolated extracellular vesicles from purified and in vitro activated human platelets, using density-gradient centrifugation, followed by RNA-seq analysis for circRNA detection. We could demonstrate that circRNAs are packaged and released within both types of vesicles (microvesicles and exosomes) derived from platelets. Interestingly, we observed a selective release of circRNAs into the vesicles, suggesting a specific sorting mechanism. In sum, circRNAs represent yet another class of extracellular RNAs that circulate in the body and may be involved in signalling pathways. Since platelets are essential for central physiological processes such as haemostasis, wound healing, inflammation and cancer metastasis, these findings should greatly extend the potential of circRNAs as prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers.

A comprehensive method for identification of suitable reference genes in extracellular vesicles.
Gouin K, Peck K, Antes T, Johnson JL, Li C, Vaturi SD, Middleton R, de Couto G, Walravens AS, Rodriguez-Borlado L, Smith RR, Marbán L, Marbán E, Ibrahim AG
J Extracell Vesicles. 2017 6(1): 1347019 -- eCollection 2017

Reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is one of the most sensitive, economical and widely used methods for evaluating gene expression. However, the utility of this method continues to be undermined by a number of challenges including normalization using appropriate reference genes. The need to develop tailored and effective strategies is further underscored by the burgeoning field of extracellular vesicle (EV) biology. EVs contain unique signatures of small RNAs including microRNAs (miRs). In this study we develop and validate a comprehensive strategy for identifying highly stable reference genes in a therapeutically relevant cell type, cardiosphere-derived cells. Data were analysed using the four major approaches for reference gene evaluation: NormFinder, GeNorm, BestKeeper and the Delta Ct method. The weighted geometric mean of all of these methods was obtained for the final ranking. Analysis of RNA sequencing identified miR-101-3p, miR-23a-3p and a previously identified EV reference gene, miR-26a-5p. Analysis of a chip-based method (NanoString) identified miR-23a, miR-217 and miR-379 as stable candidates. RT-qPCR validation revealed that the mean of miR-23a-3p, miR-101-3p and miR-26a-5p was the most stable normalization strategy. Here, we demonstrate that a comprehensive approach of a diverse data set of conditions using multiple algorithms reliably identifies stable reference genes which will increase the utility of gene expression evaluation of therapeutically relevant EVs.

Exosomes provide a protective and enriched source of miRNA for biomarker profiling compared to intracellular and cell-free blood.
Cheng L, Sharples RA, Scicluna BJ, Hill AF
J Extracell Vesicles. 2014 Mar 26;3 -- eCollection 2014

INTRODUCTION: microRNA (miRNA) are small non-coding RNA species that are transcriptionally processed in the host cell and released extracellularly into the bloodstream. Normally involved in post-transcriptional gene silencing, the deregulation of miRNA has been shown to influence pathogenesis of a number of diseases.
BACKGROUND: Next-generation deep sequencing (NGS) has provided the ability to profile miRNA in biological fluids making this approach a viable screening tool to detect miRNA biomarkers. However, collection and handling procedures of blood needs to be greatly improved for miRNA analysis in order to reliably detect differences between healthy and disease patients. Furthermore, ribonucleases present in blood can degrade RNA upon collection rendering extracellular miRNA at risk of degradation. These factors have consequently decreased sensitivity and specificity of miRNA biomarker assays.
METHODS: Here, we use NGS to profile miRNA in various blood components and identify differences in profiles within peripheral blood compared to cell-free plasma or serum and extracellular vesicles known as exosomes. We also analyse and compare the miRNA content in exosomes prepared by ultracentrifugation methods and commercial exosome isolation kits including treating samples with RNaseA.
CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that exosomal RNA is protected by RNaseA treatment and that exosomes provide a consistent source of miRNA for disease biomarker detection.

Cellular and extracellular miRNAs are blood-compartment-specific diagnostic targets in sepsis.
Reithmair M, Buschmann D, Märte M, Kirchner B, Hagl D, Kaufmann I, Pfob M, Chouker A, Steinlein OK, Pfaffl MW, Schelling G
J Cell Mol Med. 2017 21(10): 2403-2411

Septic shock is a common medical condition with a mortality approaching 50% where early diagnosis and treatment are of particular importance for patient survival. Novel biomarkers that serve as prompt indicators of sepsis are urgently needed. High-throughput technologies assessing circulating microRNAs represent an important tool for biomarker identification, but the blood-compartment specificity of these miRNAs has not yet been investigated. We characterized miRNA profiles from serum exosomes, total serum and blood cells (leukocytes, erythrocytes, platelets) of sepsis patients by next-generation sequencing and RT-qPCR (n = 3 × 22) and established differences in miRNA expression between blood compartments. In silico analysis was used to identify compartment-specific signalling functions of differentially regulated miRNAs in sepsis-relevant pathways. In septic shock, a total of 77 and 103 miRNAs were down- and up-regulated, respectively. A majority of these regulated miRNAs (14 in serum, 32 in exosomes and 73 in blood cells) had not been previously associated with sepsis. We found a distinctly compartment-specific regulation of miRNAs between sepsis patients and healthy volunteers. Blood cellular miR-199b-5p was identified as a potential early indicator for sepsis and septic shock. miR-125b-5p and miR-26b-5p were uniquely regulated in exosomes and serum, respectively, while one miRNA (miR-27b-3p) was present in all three compartments. The expression of sepsis-associated miRNAs is compartment-specific. Exosome-derived miRNAs contribute significant information regarding sepsis diagnosis and survival prediction and could serve as newly identified targets for the development of novel sepsis biomarkers.

Toward reliable biomarker signatures in the age of liquid biopsies - how to standardize the small RNA-Seq workflow.
Buschmann D, Haberberger A, Kirchner B, Spornraft M, Riedmaier I, Schelling G, Pfaffl MW
Nucleic Acids Res. 2016 44(13): 5995-6018

Small RNA-Seq has emerged as a powerful tool in transcriptomics, gene expression profiling and biomarker discovery. Sequencing cell-free nucleic acids, particularly microRNA (miRNA), from liquid biopsies additionally provides exciting possibilities for molecular diagnostics, and might help establish disease-specific biomarker signatures. The complexity of the small RNA-Seq workflow, however, bears challenges and biases that researchers need to be aware of in order to generate high-quality data. Rigorous standardization and extensive validation are required to guarantee reliability, reproducibility and comparability of research findings. Hypotheses based on flawed experimental conditions can be inconsistent and even misleading. Comparable to the well-established MIQE guidelines for qPCR experiments, this work aims at establishing guidelines for experimental design and pre-analytical sample processing, standardization of library preparation and sequencing reactions, as well as facilitating data analysis. We highlight bottlenecks in small RNA-Seq experiments, point out the importance of stringent quality control and validation, and provide a primer for differential expression analysis and biomarker discovery. Following our recommendations will encourage better sequencing practice, increase experimental transparency and lead to more reproducible small RNA-Seq results. This will ultimately enhance the validity of biomarker signatures, and allow reliable and robust clinical predictions.

Exosomes -- A Rising Star in Failing Hearts.
Jun-Yan Xu, Gui-Hao Chen and Yue-Jin Yang
Front Physiol. 2017 (8): 494

Although exosomes were previously recognized as a mechanism for discharging useless cellular components, growing evidence has elucidated their roles in conveying information between cells. They contribute to cell–cell communication by carrying nucleic acids, proteins and lipids that can, in turn, regulate behavior of the target cells. Recent research suggested that exosomes extensively participate in progression of diverse cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), such as myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, pulmonary arterial hypertension and others. Here, we summarize effects of exosome-derived molecules (mainly microRNAs and proteins) on cardiac function, to examine their potential applications as biomarkers or therapeutics in CVDs.

The majority of microRNAs detectable in serum and saliva is concentrated in exosomes.
Gallo A, Tandon M, Alevizos I, Illei GG
PLoS One. 2012; 7(3): e30679

There is an increasing interest in using microRNAs (miRNA) as biomarkers in autoimmune diseases. They are easily accessible in many body fluids but it is controversial if they are circulating freely or are encapsulated in microvesicles, particularly exosomes. We investigated if the majority of miRNas in serum and saliva are free-circulating or concentrated in exosomes. Exosomes were isolated by ultracentrifugation from fresh and frozen human serum and saliva. The amount of selected miRNAs extracted from the exosomal pellet and the exosome-depleted serum and saliva was compared by quantitative RT-PCR. Some miRNAs tested are ubiquitously expressed, others were previously reported as biomarkers. We included miRNAs previously reported to be free circulating and some thought to be exosome specific. The purity of exosome fraction was confirmed by electronmicroscopy and western blot. The concentration of miRNAs was consistently higher in the exosome pellet compared to the exosome-depleted supernatant. We obtained the same results using an equal volume or equal amount of total RNA as input of the RT-qPCR. The concentration of miRNA in whole, unfractionated serum, was between the exosomal pellet and the exosome-depleted supernatant. Selected miRNAs, which were detectable in exosomes, were undetectable in whole serum and the exosome-depleted supernantant. Exosome isolation improves the sensitivity of miRNA amplification from human biologic fluids. Exosomal miRNA should be the starting point for early biomarker studies to reduce the probability of false negative results involving low abundance miRNAs that may be missed by using unfractionated serum or saliva.


EV-TRACK  --  transparent reporting and centralizing knowledge in extracellular vesicle research.
EV-TRACK Consortium, Van Deun J, Mestdagh P, Agostinis P, ... and much more, Vandesompele J, Hendrix A
Nat Methods. 2017 14(3): 228-232

We argue that the field of extracellular vesicle (EV) biology needs more transparent reporting to facilitate interpretation and replication of experiments. To achieve this, we describe EV-TRACK, a crowdsourcing knowledgebase (http://evtrack.org) that centralizes EV biology and methodology with the goal of stimulating authors, reviewers, editors and funders to put experimental guidelines into practice.

Is your article EV-TRACKed?
Van Deun J, Hendrix A, and the EV-TRACK consortium
J Extracell Vesicles. 2017 Nov 10;6(1): 1379835 -- eCollection 2017

The EV-TRACK knowledgebase is developed to cope with the need for transparency and rigour to increase reproducibility and facilitate standardization of extracellular vesicle (EV) research. The knowledgebase includes a checklist for authors and editors intended to improve the transparency of methodological aspects of EV experiments, allows queries and meta-analysis of EV experiments and keeps track of the current state of the art. Widespread implementation by the EV research community is key to its success.

Distinct RNA profiles in subpopulations of extracellular vesicles -- apoptotic bodies, microvesicles and exosomes.
Crescitelli R, Lässer C, Szabó TG, Kittel A, Eldh M, Dianzani I, Buzás EI, Lötvall J
J Extracell Vesicles. 2013 2 -- eCollection 2013.

INTRODUCTION: In recent years, there has been an exponential increase in the number of studies aiming to understand the biology of exosomes, as well as other extracellular vesicles. However, classification of membrane vesicles and the appropriate protocols for their isolation are still under intense discussion and investigation. When isolating vesicles, it is crucial to use systems that are able to separate them, to avoid cross-contamination.
METHOD: EVS RELEASED FROM THREE DIFFERENT KINDS OF CELL LINES: HMC-1, TF-1 and BV-2 were isolated using two centrifugation-based protocols. In protocol 1, apoptotic bodies were collected at 2,000×g, followed by filtering the supernatant through 0.8 µm pores and pelleting of microvesicles at 12,200×g. In protocol 2, apoptotic bodies and microvesicles were collected together at 16,500×g, followed by filtering of the supernatant through 0.2 µm pores and pelleting of exosomes at 120,000×g. Extracellular vesicles were analyzed by transmission electron microscopy, flow cytometry and the RNA profiles were investigated using a Bioanalyzer(®).
RESULTS: RNA profiles showed that ribosomal RNA was primary detectable in apoptotic bodies and smaller RNAs without prominent ribosomal RNA peaks in exosomes. In contrast, microvesicles contained little or no RNA except for microvesicles collected from TF-1 cell cultures. The different vesicle pellets showed highly different distribution of size, shape and electron density with typical apoptotic body, microvesicle and exosome characteristics when analyzed by transmission electron microscopy. Flow cytometry revealed the presence of CD63 and CD81 in all vesicles investigated, as well as CD9 except in the TF-1-derived vesicles, as these cells do not express CD9.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate that centrifugation-based protocols are simple and fast systems to distinguish subpopulations of extracellular vesicles. Different vesicles show different RNA profiles and morphological characteristics, but they are indistinguishable using CD63-coated beads for flow cytometry analysis.
Quantitative and stoichiometric analysis of the microRNA content of exosomes.
Chevillet JR, Kang Q, Ruf IK, Briggs HA, Vojtech LN, Hughes SM, Cheng HH, Arroyo JD, Meredith EK, Gallichotte EN, Pogosova-Agadjanyan EL, Morrissey C, Stirewalt DL, Hladik F, Yu EY, Higano CS, Tewari M
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 111(41): 14888-14893

Exosomes have been proposed as vehicles for microRNA (miRNA) -based intercellular communication and a source of miRNA biomarkers in bodily fluids. Although exosome preparations contain miRNAs, a quantitative analysis of their abundance and stoichiometry is lacking. In the course of studying cancer-associated extracellular miRNAs in patient blood samples, we found that exosome fractions contained a small minority of the miRNA content of plasma. This low yield prompted us to perform a more quantitative assessment of the relationship between miRNAs and exosomes using a stoichiometric approach. We quantified both the number of exosomes and the number of miRNA molecules in replicate samples that were isolated from five diverse sources (i.e., plasma, seminal fluid, dendritic cells, mast cells, and ovarian cancer cells). Regardless of the source, on average, there was far less than one molecule of a given miRNA per exosome, even for the most abundant miRNAs in exosome preparations (mean ± SD across six exosome sources: 0.00825 ± 0.02 miRNA molecules/exosome). Thus, if miRNAs were distributed homogenously across the exosome population, on average, over 100 exosomes would need to be examined to observe one copy of a given abundant miRNA. This stoichiometry of miRNAs and exosomes suggests that most individual exosomes in standard preparations do not carry biologically significant numbers of miRNAs and are, therefore, individually unlikely to be functional as vehicles for miRNA-based communication. We propose revised models to reconcile the exosome-mediated, miRNA-based intercellular communication hypothesis with the observed stoichiometry of miRNAs associated with exosomes.
The microRNA spectrum in 12 body fluids.
Weber JA, Baxter DH, Zhang S, Huang DY, Huang KH, Lee MJ, Galas DJ, Wang K.
Clin Chem. 2010 56(11): 1733-1741

BACKGROUND: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, noncoding RNAs that play an important role in regulating various biological processes through their interaction with cellular messenger RNAs. Extracellular miRNAs in serum, plasma, saliva, and urine have recently been shown to be associated with various pathological conditions including cancer.
METHODS: With the goal of assessing the distribution of miRNAs and demonstrating the potential use of miRNAs as biomarkers, we examined the presence of miRNAs in 12 human body fluids and urine samples from women in different stages of pregnancy or patients with different urothelial cancers. Using quantitative PCR, we conducted a global survey of the miRNA distribution in these fluids.
RESULTS: miRNAs were present in all fluids tested and showed distinct compositions in different fluid types. Several of the highly abundant miRNAs in these fluids were common among multiple fluid types, and some of the miRNAs were enriched in specific fluids. We also observed distinct miRNA patterns in the urine samples obtained from individuals with different physiopathological conditions.
CONCLUSIONS: MicroRNAs are ubiquitous in all the body fluid types tested. Fluid type-specific miRNAs may have functional roles associated with the surrounding tissues. In addition, the changes in miRNA spectra observed in the urine samples from patients with different urothelial conditions demonstrates the potential for using concentrations of specific miRNAs in body fluids as biomarkers for detecting and monitoring various physiopathological conditions.

Analysis of extracellular RNA in cerebrospinal fluid.
Saugstad JA, Lusardi TA, Van Keuren-Jensen KR, Phillips JI, Lind B, Harrington CA, McFarland TJ, Courtright AL, Reiman RA, Yeri AS, Kalani MYS, Adelson PD, Arango J, Nolan JP, Duggan E, Messer K, Akers JC, Galasko DR, Quinn JF, Carter BS, Hochberg FH
J Extracell Vesicles. 2017 6(1): 1317577

We examined the extracellular vesicle (EV) and RNA composition of pooled normal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples and CSF from five major neurological disorders: Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), low-grade glioma (LGG), glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), and subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH), representing neurodegenerative disease, cancer, and severe acute brain injury. We evaluated: (I) size and quantity of EVs by nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) and vesicle flow cytometry (VFC), (II) RNA yield and purity using four RNA isolation kits, (III) replication of RNA yields within and between laboratories, and (IV) composition of total and EV RNAs by reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and RNA sequencing (RNASeq). The CSF contained ~106 EVs/μL by NTA and VFC. Brain tumour and SAH CSF contained more EVs and RNA relative to normal, AD, and PD. RT-qPCR and RNASeq identified disease-related populations of microRNAs and messenger RNAs (mRNAs) relative to normal CSF, in both total and EV fractions. This work presents relevant measures selected to inform the design of subsequent replicative CSF studies. The range of neurological diseases highlights variations in total and EV RNA content due to disease or collection site, revealing critical considerations guiding the selection of appropriate approaches and controls for CSF studies.

Deep sequencing of RNA from three different extracellular vesicle (EV) subtypes released from the human LIM1863 colon cancer cell line uncovers distinct miRNA-enrichment signatures.
Ji H, Chen M, Greening DW, He W, Rai A, Zhang W, Simpson RJ
PLoS One. 2014 9(10): e110314 -- eCollection 2014.

Secreted microRNAs (miRNAs) enclosed within extracellular vesicles (EVs) play a pivotal role in intercellular communication by regulating recipient cell gene expression and affecting target cell function. Here, we report the isolation of three distinct EV subtypes from the human colon carcinoma cell line LIM1863--shed microvesicles (sMVs) and two exosome populations (immunoaffinity isolated A33-exosomes and EpCAM-exosomes). Deep sequencing of miRNA libraries prepared from parental LIM1863 cells/derived EV subtype RNA yielded 254 miRNA identifications, of which 63 are selectively enriched in the EVs--miR-19a/b-3p, miR-378a/c/d, and miR-577 and members of the let-7 and miR-8 families being the most prominent. Let-7a-3p*, let-7f-1-3p*, miR-451a, miR-574-5p*, miR-4454 and miR-7641 are common to all EV subtypes, and 6 miRNAs (miR-320a/b/c/d, miR-221-3p, and miR-200c-3p) discern LIM1863 exosomes from sMVs; miR-98-5p was selectively represented only in sMVs. Notably, A33-Exos contained the largest number (32) of exclusively-enriched miRNAs; 14 of these miRNAs have not been reported in the context of CRC tissue/biofluid analyses and warrant further examination as potential diagnostic markers of CRC. Surprisingly, miRNA passenger strands (star miRNAs) for miR-3613-3p*, -362-3p*, -625-3p*, -6842-3p* were the dominant strand in A33-Exos, the converse to that observed in parental cells. This finding suggests miRNA biogenesis may be interlinked with endosomal/exosomal processing.
Secreted microRNAs -- a new form of intercellular communication.
Chen X, Liang H, Zhang J, Zen K, Zhang CY.
Trends Cell Biol. 2012 22(3):125-32

In multicellular organisms, cell-to-cell communication is of particular importance for the proper development and function of the organism as a whole. Intensive studies over the past three years suggesting horizontal transfer of secreted microRNAs (miRNAs) between cells point to a potentially novel role for these molecules in intercellular communication. Using a microvesicle-dependent, or RNA-binding protein-associated, active trafficking system, secreted miRNAs can be delivered into recipient cells where they function as endogenous miRNAs, simultaneously regulating multiple target genes or signaling events. In this Opinion, we summarize recent literature on the biogenesis and uptake of secreted miRNAs, propose a possible working model for how secreted miRNAs might be sorted and transferred between cells and speculate on their biological significance.
Characterization of mRNA and microRNA in human mast cell-derived exosomes and their transfer to other mast cells and blood CD34 progenitor cells.
Ekström K, Valadi H, Sjöstrand M, Malmhäll C, Bossios A, Eldh M, Lötvall J.
J Extracell Vesicles. 2012; 1 -- eCollection 2012

BACKGROUND: Exosomes are nanosized vesicles of endocytic origin that are released into the extracellular environment by many different cells. It has been shown that exosomes from various cellular origins contain a substantial amount of RNA (mainly mRNA and microRNA). More importantly, exosomes are capable of delivering their RNA content to target cells, which is a novel way of cell-to-cell communication. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether exosomal shuttle RNA could play a role in the communication between human mast cells and between human mast cells and human CD34(+) progenitor cells.
METHODS: The mRNA and microRNA content of exosomes from a human mast cell line, HMC-1, was analysed by using microarray technology. Co-culture experiments followed by flow cytometry analysis and confocal microscopy as well as radioactive labeling experiments were performed to examine the uptake of these exosomes and the shuttle of the RNA to other mast cells and CD34(+) progenitor cells.
RESULTS: In this study, we show that human mast cells release RNA-containing exosomes, with the capacity to shuttle RNA between cells. Interestingly, by using microRNA microarray analysis, 116 microRNAs could be identified in the exosomes and 134 microRNAs in the donor mast cells. Furthermore, DNA microarray experiments revealed the presence of approximately 1800 mRNAs in the exosomes, which represent 15% of the donor cell mRNA content. In addition, transfer experiments revealed that exosomes can shuttle RNA between human mast cells and to CD34(+) hematopoietic progenitor cells.
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that exosomal shuttle RNA (esRNA) can play a role in the communication between cells, including mast cells and CD34(+) progenitor cells, implying a role in cells maturation process.
 ... more papers in the next months !

©  editor@gene-quantification.info