Circulating microRNAs as Hormones: Intercellular and Inter-organ Conveyors of Epigenetic Information?
The discovery of microRNAs (miRNAs) has created a paradigm shift not only in the traditional central dogma of molecular biology but also in the research of a variety of human diseases. Fourteen years after the discovery of miRNAs, there was another revolutionary finding: cells can shuttle miRNAs between each other via small lipid bilayer vesicles called exosomes. This exosome-mediated horizontal transfer of genetically encoded messages is now recognized as a means of intercellular communication. This chapter reviews the concept that miRNAs can function as hormones conveying epigenetic information.
KeywordsExosome Extracellular vesicles miRNA Circulating miRNAs Cell-to-cell communication
This work was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) through the Center of Innovation Program from MEXT and JST; a Grant-in-Aid for the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (A-MED); a Grant-in-Aid for Basic Science and Platform Technology Program for Innovative Biological Medicine; a Grant-in-Aid for a research program of the Project for Development of Innovative Research on Cancer Therapeutics (P-Direct); and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas (functional machinery for noncoding RNAs) from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
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