Tiny RNAs and their voyage via extracellular vesicles: Secretion of bacterial small RNA and eukaryotic microRNA.
Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2017 Jan 1:1535370217723166. Epub 2017 Jan 1. PMID: 28741379
MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that bind to the 3'-untranslated region of target mRNAs and have transcriptional or translational inhibitory function in eukaryotes. Before microRNAs were widely known, bacterial non-coding small RNAs around 50-200 nt in length were discovered whose mechanism of action resembled that of microRNAs. Recently, RNAs that are of similar size to or smaller than microRNAs have been discovered in bacteria and indeed, this class of small RNAs have been found throughout all domains of life. Moreover, recent findingssuggest that these tiny RNAs can be released via extracellular vesicles (such as exosomes in eukaryotes and outer membrane vesicles in bacteria), which in turn heralds a new field of research, interkingdom communication. This review discusses two similar classes of small RNAs in evolutionarily distinct eukaryotes and bacteria. In addition to their biogenesis and regulation, we discuss small RNA vehicles and their secretion. Impact statement The possible endogenous functions of small RNAs such as regulatory small RNAs in bacteria and microRNAs in eukaryotes have been extensively studied since they were first discovered. However, their powerful functions should not be seen as limited to their cells of origin. Recently, several papers have demonstrated that small RNAs function as signaling molecules between cells. This is possible because small RNAs can be shuttled around after being incorporated into environmentally protective extracellular vesicles. It is now clearly plausible that secreted small RNAs can regulate other types of cells through biofluids. Given their"common molecule"status, the role of small RNAs in mediating bacteria-human crosstalk is an emerging and competitive area of genetic research. This review provides insight into the function of small RNAs in intercellular and even interkingdom communication.