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Methods Collections

Breakthrough technologies for unraveling message of microRNAs

Collection Overview

miRNAs are the most studied non-coding RNAs, whose expression is tissue-specific. miRNAs post-transcriptionally modulate protein expression by degrading mRNA or blocking its translation. Increasing efforts are underway to characterize these molecules as biomarkers. However, recent findings have brought about a novel role for miRNAs as cell-to-cell communicators. miRNAs can be released by the emitting cell and packaged into extracellular vesicles protecting them from degradation by RNAses. Interestingly, miRNAs contained in extracellular vesicles are able to regulate the phenotype of their recipient cells by complex mechanisms which remain under investigation. Firstly, actively selected and packaged miRNAs are secreted. The lack of concordance between miRNA profiles in cells and exosomes, indicates that loading is not a passive process. Secondly, they may be transferred to their recipient cells as a novel mechanism of horizontal transfer of genetic material. And, finally, miRNAs suppress the translation of their target mRNAs into the recipient cell, modulating its fate. Nevertheless, little is known about the mechanisms regulating these stages although interesting experimental designs are being developed to shed light on this cellular mechanism. In light of these developments, this Methods Collection will compile methodologies, both in vitro and in vivo experiments, in order to assess the role of miRNAs as intercellular communicators, including both standard and groundbreaking methodologies.


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