Extracellular mRNAs (ex-mRNAs) potentially supersede extracellular miRNAs (ex-miRNAs) and other RNA classes as biomarkers. We performed conventional small-RNA-sequencing (sRNA-seq) and sRNA-seq with T4 polynucleotide kinase (PNK) end-treatment of total exRNA isolated from serum and platelet-poor EDTA, ACD, and heparin plasma to study the effect on ex-mRNA capture. Compared to conventional sRNA-seq PNK-treatment increased the detection of informative ex-mRNAs reads up to 50-fold. The exRNA pool was dominated by hematopoietic cells and platelets, with additional contribution from the liver. About 60% of the 15- to 42-nt reads originated from the coding sequences, in a pattern reminiscent of ribosome-profiling. Blood sample type had a considerable influence on the exRNA profile. On average approximately 350 to 1,100 distinct ex-mRNA transcripts were detected depending on plasma type. In serum, additional transcripts from neutrophils and hematopoietic cells increased this number to near 2,300. EDTA and ACD plasma showed a destabilizing effect on ex mRNA and non-coding RNA ribonucleoprotein complexes compared to other plasma types. In a proof-of-concept study, we investigated differences between the exRNA profiles of patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and healthy controls. The improved tissue resolution of ex mRNAs after PNK-treatment enabled us to detect a neutrophil-signature in ACS that escaped detection by ex miRNA analysis.
Kemal M. Akat, Youngmin A. Lee, Arlene Hurley, Pavel Morozov, Klaas E.A. Max, Miguel Brown, Kimberly Bogardus, Anuoluwapo Sopeyin, Kai Hildner, Thomas G. Diacovo, Markus F. Neurath, Martin Borggrefe, Thomas Tuschl