A team of bioengineers has discovered that RNA generated by the human genome is present on the surface of human cells, inferring that RNA could play a more complex role in interactions between cells and cells and the environment.
The membrane-associated extracelluar RNA (also known as maxRNA) can be found in human cells that aren’t affected by cell death, offering more information about the way in which nuclear acids can enhance or contribute to functions related to the surface of cells.
The surface of a cell can be compared to a human face since it contains elements that allow researchers to recognize its type. Previous research has uncovered significant information about other elements that can be found on the surface of a cell, including proteins, glycans and lipids, but there was little to no information about RNA produced by the human genome.
The presence of RNA as a molecule that occurs naturally on the surface of a cell can play an important role in the understanding of the human genome and the creation of a new therapeutic solution that could be more effective in the long run.
More effective treatments
Therapeutics based on maxRNA could be more effective since it is located on the exterior of the cell and can be targeted more easily by antisense oligonucleotides. Other agents, with antibodies being one example, are also effective, but they are harder to develop and adapt for specific targets.
A nanotechnology method was used to create incredibly small nanosponges that were coated with natural cell membranes. The process allowed the cell membrane to retain surface molecules that were collected with the help of a purification process and sequenced to learn more about them.
Further research will take place in the future as the team wants to learn more about the way in which maxRNA interacts with cell types, genes, and environmental triggers.