Functional biomolecules, including small noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), are released and transmitted between mammalian cells via extracellular vesicles (EVs), including endosome-derived exosomes. The small RNA composition in cells differs from exosomes, but underlying mechanisms have not been established.
Researchers from the VU University Medical Center, the Netherlands generated small RNA profiles by RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) from a panel of human B cells and their secreted exosomes. A comprehensive bioinformatics and statistical analysis revealed nonrandomly distributed subsets of microRNA (miRNA) species between B cells and exosomes. Unexpectedly, 3′ end adenylated miRNAs are relatively enriched in cells, whereas 3′ end uridylated isoforms appear overrepresented in exosomes, as validated in naturally occurring EVs isolated from human urine samples. Collectively, these findings suggest that posttranscriptional modifications, notably 3′ end adenylation and uridylation, exert opposing effects that may contribute, at least in part, to direct ncRNA sorting into EVs.