Mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs) are clinically useful for cell-based therapy, but concerns regarding their ability to replicate limit their human application. MSCs release extracellular vesicles (EVs) that mediate at least in part the paracrine effects of the parental cells.
To understand the molecular basis of their biological properties, researchers at the Mayo Clinic characterized the RNA cargo of EVs from porcine adipose-tissue derived MSCs. Comprehensive characterization of mRNA and miRNA gene expression using high-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) revealed that EVs are selectively enriched for distinct classes of RNAs. For example, EVs preferentially express mRNA for transcription factors (e.g. MDFIC, POU3F1, NRIP1) and genes involved in angiogenesis (e.g. HGF, HES1, TCF4) and adipogenesis (e.g. CEBPA, KLF7). EVs also express Golgi apparatus genes (ARRB1, GOLGA4) and genes involved in TGF-β signaling. In contrast, mitochondrial, calcium signaling, and cytoskeleton genes are selectively excluded from EVs, possibly because these genes remain sequestered in organelles or intracellular compartments. RNA-seq generated reads for at least 386 annotated miRNAs, but only miR148a, miR532-5p, miR378, and let-7f were enriched in EVs compared to MSCs. Gene ontology analysis indicates that these miRNAs target transcription factors and genes that participate in several cellular pathways, including angiogenesis, cellular transport, apoptosis, and proteolysis.
This data suggest that EVs transport gene regulatory information to modulate angiogenesis, adipogenesis, and other cell pathways in recipient cells. These observations may contribute to development of regenerative strategies using EVs to overcome potential complications of cell-based therapy.