Small Extracellular Vesicle Enrichment of a Retrotransposon-Derived Double-Stranded RNA: A Means to Avoid Autoinflammation?
journal contributionposted on 15.12.2021, 01:42 authored by Marilou H Barrios, Alexandra L Garnham, Andrew D Foers, Lesley Cheng-Sim, Seth L Masters, Ken C Pang
Small extracellular vesicles (SEVs) such as exosomes are released by multiple cell types. Originally believed to be a mechanism for selectively removing unwanted cellular components, SEVs have received increased attention in recent years for their ability to mediate intercellular communication. Apart from proteins and lipids, SEVs contain RNAs, but how RNAs are selectively loaded into SEVs remains poorly understood. To address this question, we profiled SEV RNAs from mouse dendritic cells using RNA-Seq and identified a long noncoding RNA of retroviral origin, VL30, which is highly enriched (>200-fold) in SEVs compared to parental cells. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that exosome-enriched isoforms of VL30 RNA contain a repetitive 26-nucleotide motif. This repeated motif is itself efficiently incorporated into SEVs, suggesting the likelihood that it directly promotes SEV loading. RNA folding analyses indicate that the motif is likely to form a long double-stranded RNA hairpin and, consistent with this, its overexpression was associated with induction of a potent type I interferon response. Taken together, we propose that preferential loading into SEVs of the VL30 RNA containing this immunostimulatory motif enables cells to remove a potentially toxic RNA and avoid autoinflammation. In this way, the original notion of SEVs as a cellular garbage bin should not be entirely discounted.