NSF Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences: “Unraveling Extracellular microRNA Communication”
Funding Agency: NSF Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
Title: Unraveling Extracellular microRNA Communication
Role: Principal Investigator
MicroRNAs are exported from cells through hemichannels, gap junctions, and extracellular vesicles, affecting cells at great distances from the cells responsible for their transcription. Unfortunately, reports on the intercellular transmission of miRNAs have focused on individually labeled miRNAs, leaving unanswered larger questions, such as: which miRNAs are transferred, whether the transfer is selective, whether transferred miRNAs are active, and how fast and how far they are transferred. The primary reason for this knowledge gap is that miRNAs are not labeled by the cell of origin. To probe miRNA-mediated cell-cell communication, we will pursue the following specific objectives: (1) identification of miRNAs that are transferred between cells, (2) engineering of ultrasensitive miRNA sensors using synthetic biology circuits, and (3) characterization and control of miRNA transmission between cells.