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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2015 May;72(10):1849-61. doi: 10.1007/s00018-014-1811-0. Epub 2015 Jan 7.

Interactions between cancer cells and normal cells via miRNAs in extracellular vesicles.

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Division of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, National Cancer Center Research Institute, 5-1-1, Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0045, Japan.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) exhibit many functions in biological activities. Recent studies have shown that miRNAs exist outside cells and are transferred between cells. Extracellular miRNAs are protected from ribonucleases found in body fluids through binding to specific proteins or by being encapsulated in lipid bilayer vesicles. Here, we review the mechanisms of the secretion and uptake as well as the functions of extracellular miRNAs, particularly those encapsulated in extracellular vesicles. Extracellular vesicles are related to cancer progression, and some miRNAs in extracellular vesicles are associated with cancer cells. We describe the transfer of cancer-related miRNAs between cancer cells and non-cancerous cells. Finally, we discuss the anticipated applications of miRNAs present in extracellular vesicles in diagnostics and therapeutics.

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