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Extracellular microRNAs (miRNAs) and other small RNAs are implicated in cellular communication and may be useful as disease biomarkers. UCSF researchers systematically compared small RNAs in 12 human biofluid types using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). miRNAs and tRNA-derived RNAs (tDRs) accounted for the majority of mapped reads in all biofluids, but the ratio of miRNA to tDR reads varied from 72 in plasma to 0.004 in bile. miRNA levels were highly correlated across all biofluids, but levels of some miRNAs differed markedly between biofluids. tDR populations differed extensively between biofluids. Y RNA fragments were seen in all biofluids and accounted for >10% of reads in blood plasma, serum, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Reads mapping exclusively to Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) were very rare, except in seminal plasma. These results demonstrate extensive differences in small RNAs between human biofluids and provide a useful resource for investigating extracellular RNA biology and developing biomarkers.
Godoy PM, Bhakta NR, Barczak AJ, Cakmak H, Fisher S, MacKenzie TC, Patel T, Price RW, Smith JF, Woodruff PG, Erle DJ. (2018) Large Differences in Small RNA Composition Between Human Biofluids. Cell Rep 25(5):1346-1358. [article]