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Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Apr 20;45(7):4131-4141. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkw1284.

Rapid decay of engulfed extracellular miRNA by XRN1 exonuclease promotes transient epithelial-mesenchymal transition.

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Université Côte d'Azur, CNRS, INSERM, IRCAN, FHU-OncoAge, 06107 Nice France.
Université Côte d'Azur, CHU-Nice, Hospital-related Biobank (BB-0033-00025), FHU-OncoAge, 06000 Nice, France.
Université Côte d'Azur, INSERM, C3M, 06200 Nice, France.
Université Côte d'Azur, CNRS, INSERM, IPMC, FHU-OncoAge, 06560 Valbonne, France.
Université de Bordeaux, INSERM, ARNA, 33076 Bordeaux, France.
Antoine Lacassagne Cancer Center, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, 06189 Nice, France.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have been shown to play an important role in intercellular communication as carriers of DNA, RNA and proteins. While the intercellular transfer of miRNA through EVs has been extensively studied, the stability of extracellular miRNA (ex-miRNA) once engulfed by a recipient cell remains to be determined. Here, we identify the ex-miRNA-directed phenotype to be transient due to the rapid decay of ex-miRNA. We demonstrate that the ex-miR-223-3p transferred from polymorphonuclear leukocytes to cancer cells were functional, as demonstrated by the decreased expression of its target FOXO1 and the occurrence of epithelial-mesenchymal transition reprogramming. We showed that the engulfed ex-miRNA, unlike endogenous miRNA, was unstable, enabling dynamic regulation and a return to a non-invasive phenotype within 8 h. This transient phenotype could be modulated by targeting XRN1/PACMAN exonuclease. Indeed, its silencing was associated with slower decay of ex-miR-223-3p and subsequently prolonged the invasive properties. In conclusion, we showed that the 'steady step' level of engulfed miRNA and its subsequent activity was dependent on the presence of a donor cell in the surroundings to constantly fuel the recipient cell with ex-miRNAs and of XRN1 exonuclease, which is involved in the decay of these imported miRNA.

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