The Role of Extracellular Vesicles as Shuttles of RNA

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have attracted interest as mediators of intercellular communication following the discovery that EVs contain RNA molecules, including non-coding RNA (ncRNA). Growing evidence for the enrichment of peculiar RNA species in specific EV subtypes has been demonstrated. ncRNAs, transferred from donor cells to recipient cells, confer to EVs the feature to regulate the expression of genes involved in differentiation, proliferation, apoptosis, and other biological processes. These multiple actions require accuracy in the isolation of RNA content from EVs and the methodologies used play a relevant role. In liver, EVs play a crucial role in regulating cell–cell communications and several pathophysiological events in the heterogeneous liver class of cells via horizontal transfer of their cargo. Researchers from the University of Ferrara discuss the rising role of EVs and their ncRNAs content in regulating specific aspects of hepatocellular carcinoma development, including tumorigenesis, angiogenesis, and tumor metastasis. We analyze the progress in EV-ncRNAs’ potential clinical applications as important diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for liver conditions.

Overview of the process for the analysis of RNA molecules obtained from extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells

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An adequate approach to isolate the EVs and the choice of assay having suitable sensitivity to detect small amounts of RNA represent the main determinants of success to discover disease-specific RNA molecules.

Costanzi E, Simioni C, Varano G, Brenna C, Conti I, Neri LM. (2021) The Role of Extracellular Vesicles as Shuttles of RNA and Their Clinical Significance as Biomarkers in Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Genes 12(6):902. [article]

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