May 2, 2024

The big sort 

A new interactive tool presents information on noncoding RNA in extracellular vesicles — agents of cell-cell communication that may have a future in medical diagnosis and therapeutics.

(iStock image)

Released from their cells of origin, extracellular vesicles and particles (EVPs) mediate cell-cell communication. Noncoding RNA (ncRNA) is among its most important cargo, due to its retained regulatory function in recipient cells.

Now, scientists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have collected publicly available sequencing data on ncRNAs in human EVPs, built interactive tools around it, and made it easily accessible to the world for open-ended study. As reported in the Journal of Molecular Biology, Hua-chang Chen, PhD, Jing Wang, PhD, Yu Shyr, PhD, Qi Liu, PhD, and colleagues have named their online VUMC platform EVPsort, short for Extracellular Vesicles and Particles Profiling and Sorting. 

Drawing from numerous studies and external databases — 3,162 datasets in all — the platform serves up information on the relative abundance of all types of ncRNAs across various biofluids, cell lines, and disease and drug contexts, as well as connections to upstream RNA-binding proteins and motifs and downstream targets and pathways. 

The authors join other researchers in seeing a future for extracellular ncRNA in medical diagnosis and therapeutics. 

Others on the study include Robert Coffey, MD, James Patton, PhD, and Alissa Weaver, MD, PhD. 

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants U2CCA233291, P01CA229123, U54CA274367, P01AI139449, P30CA068485).