Distinct small non-coding RNA landscape in the axons and released extracellular vesicles of developing primary cortical neurons and the axoplasm of adult nerves

Extracellular Vesicles

Neurons have highlighted the needs for decentralized gene expression and specific RNA function in somato-dendritic and axonal compartments, as well as in intercellular communication via extracellular vesicles (EVs). Despite advances in miRNA biology, the identity and regulatory capacity of other small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs) in neuronal models and local subdomains has been largely unexplored.We identified a highly complex and differentially localized content of sncRNAs in axons and EVs during early neuronal development of cortical primary neurons and in adult axons in vivo. This content goes far beyond miRNAs and includes most known sncRNAs and precisely processed fragments from tRNAs, sno/snRNAs, Y RNAs and vtRNAs. Although miRNAs are the major sncRNA biotype in whole-cell samples, their relative abundance is significantly decreased in axons and neuronal EVs, where specific tRNA fragments (tRFs and tRHs/tiRNAs) mainly derived from tRNAs Gly-GCC, Val-CAC and Val-AAC predominate. Notably, although 5'-tRHs compose the great majority of tRNA-derived fragments observed in vitro, a shift to 3'-tRNAs is observed in mature axons in vivo.The existence of these complex sncRNA populations that are specific to distinct neuronal subdomains and selectively incorporated into EVs, equip neurons with key molecular tools for spatiotemporal functional control and cell-to-cell communication.

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Recent Publications

Cigarette smoke (CS) represents one of the most relevant environmental risk factors for several chronic pathologies. Tissue damage caused by CS exposure is mediated, at least in part, by oxidative stress induced by its toxic and pro-oxidant components. Evidence demonstrates that extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by various cell types exposed to CS extract (CSE) are characterized by altered biochemical cargo and gained pathological properties. In the present study, we evaluated the content of oxidized proteins and phospholipid fatty acid profiles of EVs released by human bronchial epithelial BEAS-2B cells treated with CSE. This specific molecular characterization has hitherto not been performed. After confirmation that CSE reduces viability of BEAS-2B cells and elevates intracellular ROS levels, in a dose-dependent manner, we demonstrated that 24 h exposure at 1% CSE, a concentration that only slight modifies cell viability but increases ROS levels, was able to increase carbonylated protein levels in cells and released EVs. The release of oxidatively modified proteins via EVs might represent a mechanism used by cells to remove toxic proteins in order to avoid their intracellular overloading. Moreover, 1% CSE induced only few changes in the fatty acid asset in BEAS-2B cell membrane phospholipids, whereas several rearrangements were observed in EVs released by CSE-treated cells. The impact of changes in acyl chain composition of CSE-EVs accounted for the increased saturation levels of phospholipids, a membrane parameter that might influence EV stability, uptake and, at least in part, EV-mediated biological effects. The present in vitro study adds new information concerning the biochemical composition of CSE-related EVs, useful to predict their biological effects on target cells. Furthermore, the information regarding the presence of oxidized proteins and the specific membrane features of CSE-related EVs can be useful to define the utilization of circulating EVs as marker for diagnosing of CS-induced lung damage and/or CS-related diseases.

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