Although the expression of long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) is altered in hepatocellular cancer (HCC), their biological effects are poorly defined. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have identified lncRNA with highly conserved sequences, ultraconserved lncRNA (ucRNA) that are transcribed and altered in expression in HCC. Extracellular vesicles, such as exosomes and microvesicles, are released from tumor cells and can transfer biologically active proteins and RNA across cells. They sought to identify the role of vesicle-mediated transfer of ucRNA as a mechanism by which these novel lncRNA could influence intercellular signaling with potential for environmental modulation of tumor cell behavior. HCC-derived extracellular vesicles could be isolated from cells in culture and taken up by adjacent cells. The expression of several ucRNA was dramatically altered within extracellular vesicles compared to that in donor cells. The most highly significantly expressed ucRNA in HCC cell-derived extracellular vesicles was cloned and identified as a 1,198-bp ucRNA, termed TUC339. TUC339 was functionally implicated in modulating tumor cell growth and adhesion. Suppression of TUC339 by siRNA reduced HCC cell proliferation, clonogenic growth, and growth in soft agar. Thus, intercellular transfer of TUC339 represents a unique signaling mechanism by which tumor cells can promote HCC growth and spread.
These findings expand the potential roles of ucRNA in HCC, support the existence of selective mechanisms for lncRNA export from cells, and implicate extracellular vesicle-mediated transfer of lncRNA as a mechanism by which tumor cells can modulate their local cellular environment. Intercellular transfer of functionally active RNA molecules by extracellular vesicles provides a mechanism that enables cells to exert genetic influences on other cells within the microenvironment.
- Kogure T, Yan IK, Lin WL, Patel T. . (2013) Extracellular Vesicle-Mediated Transfer of a Novel Long Noncoding RNA TUC339: A Mechanism of Intercellular Signaling in Human Hepatocellular Cancer. Genes Cancer 4(7-8), 261-72. [article]