Sorting of small RNAs into extracellular vesicles secreted by human cells
- Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA. 94720 USA.
- Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712 USA.
Highly purified extracellular vesicles (EVs) isolated from human cell lines display a small number of substantially (~ 1000 fold) enriched miRNAs that differ from one cell line to another. In spite of the small number of such species, no single RNA sorting sequence is evident. In order to explore the mechanism of RNA sorting, we established a cell-free reaction that reproduces the selective incorporation of synthetic, mature miRNAs (miR223 and miR122) into vesicles formed in a reaction containing membranes and cytosol from mechanically disrupted HEK293 cells. The sorting reaction requires both membrane and cytosol and is stimulated by hydrolysable ATP and incubation at a physiologic temperature. Using biotinlyated derivatives of two different miRNAs, we found different sets of RNA binding proteins incorporated along with each species, among which the proteins Ybx1 and Lupus La are required to sort mir223 and miR122, respectively. EVs also contain more abundant major species of small RNA including full-length tRNA, Y-RNA and vault RNA, and each requires the Ybx1 protein for selective sorting into exosomes secreted by cells and into vesicles in the cell-free reaction. tRNAs in EVs appear to have a distinct chemical modification that is much less abundant in tRNAs in HEK293 cells. This modification may be involved in tRNA sorting or in the function of tRNA transported to a target cell.
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