Exosomes provide unappreciated carrier effects that assist transfers of their miRNAs to targeted cells

Extracellular vesicles (EV), such as exosomes, are emerging biologic entities that mediate important newly recognized functional effects. Exosomes are intracellular endosome-originating, cell-secreted, small nano-size EV. They can transfer cargo molecules like miRNAs to act intracellularly in targeted acceptor cells, to then mediate epigenetic functional alterations. Exosomes among EV, are universal nanoparticles of life that are present across all species. Some critics mistakenly hold exosomes to concepts and standards of cells, whereas they are subcellular nanospheres that are a million times smaller, have neither nuclei nor mitochondria, are far less complex and currently cannot be studied deeply and elegantly by many and diverse technologies developed for cells over many years. There are important concerns about the seeming impossibility of biologically significant exosome transfers of very small amounts of miRNAs resulting in altered targeted cell functions. These hesitations are based on current canonical concepts developed for non-physiological application of miRNAs alone, or artificial non-quantitative genetic expression. Not considered is that the natural physiologic intercellular transit via exosomes can contribute numerous augmenting carrier effects to functional miRNA transfers. Some of these are particularly stimulated complex extracellular and intracellular physiologic processes activated in the exosome acceptor cells that can crucially influence the intracellular effects of the transferred miRNAs. These can lead to molecular chemical changes altering DNA expression for mediating functional changes of the targeted cells. Such exosome mediated molecular transfers of epigenetic functional alterations, are the most exciting and life-altering property that these nano EV bring to virtually all of biology and medicine.

Askenase PW. (2021) Exosomes provide unappreciated carrier effects that assist transfers of their miRNAs to targeted cells; I. They are ‘The Elephant in the Room’. RNA Biol [Epub ahead of print]. [article]

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