Map illustrates the novel form of cell-to-cell communication

June 05, 2023 | Biotechnology

International researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine and universities from Zürich created a powerful resource in examining the extracellular RNA (exRNA). This research lays the groundwork for how exRNA and its carrier proteins function in a healthy way. It also explores the diseased setting that might provide a way for early detection and monitoring of disease processes.

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Previous researches have discovered that RNA not only exists inside cells but also exists as extracellular RNA in bodily fluids outside of cells, which plays a crucial role in cell-to-cell communication. The exRNA associates with various carriers including RNA binding proteins (RBPs). However, the cargo and distribution of these RBPs across biofluids is relatively unknown.

This major gap in knowledge is being addressed by the study and the findings opened a new road for understanding exRNA biology. In turn, these led to the development of exRBP or exRNA liquid biopsy biomarkers.

Applied computational analyses are used in the identification of exRBPs in plasma, serum, saliva, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid. The predictions were further confirmed experimentally at about 80% in plasma and cell cultures in the lab. This suggested a high specificity for the computational method.

The results gathered allowed the researchers to come up with a map of candidate exRBPs and their corresponding exRNA cargo. This expands the landscape of potential biomarkers that can be examined in liquid biopsies to keep track for normal and disease processes. 

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