Plasma exosomal tRNA‐derived fragments as diagnostic biomarkers in non-small cell lung cancer

Extracellular Vesicles

tRNA derived small RNAs (tRFs) have recently received extensive attention; however, the effects of tRFs in exosome as biomarkers has been less studied. The objective of this study was to validate novel diagnostic exosomal tRFs with sensitivity and specificity for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Exosomes extracted from plasma of NSCLC patients and healthy individuals were identified by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), qNano and western blots. The differentially expressed tRFs were screened by high-throughput sequencing in plasma exosomes of NSCLC patients and healthy individuals, and further verified by Quantitative Real-Time PCR (qRT-PCR). To assess the diagnostic efficacy of exosomal tRFs for NSCLC, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used next. The expression levels of exosomal tRF-Leu-TAA-005, tRF-Asn-GTT-010, tRF-Ala-AGC-036, tRF-Lys-CTT-049, and tRF-Trp-CCA-057 were significantly decreased in NSCLC patients and early-stage NSCLC patients compared to healthy individuals. Notably, the exepression of tRF-Leu-TAA-005, tRF-Asn-GTT-010, tRF-Ala-AGC-036, tRF-Lys-CTT-049, and tRF-Trp-CCA-057 in the exosomes were higher than the exosome depleted supernatant (EDS). Our results showed that the levels of exosomal tRF-Leu-TAA-005, tRF-Asn-GTT-010, tRF-Ala-AGC-036, tRF-Lys-CTT-049, and tRF-Trp-CCA-057 were significantly downregulated in NSCLC patients. This suggests that these five exosomal tRFs may be promising diagnostic biomarkers for NSCLC.

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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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