Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plant miRNAs could enter host blood and tissues via food intake, study suggests

Date:
September 19, 2011
Source:
Nanjing University School of Life Sciences
Summary:
In a new study, researchers in China present a rather striking finding: that plant miRNAs could make it into the host blood and tissues via the route of food intake. Moreover, once inside the host, they can elicit functions by regulating host 'target' genes and thus regulate host physiology.

In a new study, Chen-Yu Zhang's group at Nanjing University present a rather striking finding: that plant miRNAs could make into the host blood and tissues via the route of food intake. Moreover, once inside the host, they can elicit functions by regulating host "target" genes and thus regulate host physiology.

MicroRNAs are a class of 19-24 nucleotide non-coding RNAs that do not code for proteins. MicroRNAs bind to target messenger RNAs to inhibit protein translation. In previous studies, the same group has demonstrated that stable microRNAs (miRNAs) in mammalian serum and plasma are actively secreted from tissues and cells and can serve as a novel class of biomarkers for disease and act as signaling molecules in intercellular communication.

Here, they report the surprising finding that exogenous plant miRNAs are present in the sera and tissues of various animals and that these exogenous plant miRNAs are primarily acquired orally, through food intake. MIR168a is abundant in rice and is one of the most highly enriched exogenous plant miRNAs in the sera of Chinese subjects. Functional studies in vitro and in vivo demonstrated that MIR168a could bind to the human/mouse low density lipoprotein receptor adapter protein 1 (LDLRAP1) mRNA, inhibit LDLRAP1 expression in liver, and consequently decrease LDL removal from mouse plasma. These findings demonstrate that exogenous plant miRNAs in food can regulate the expression of target genes in and thus physiology of mammals.

The finding is obviously very thought-provoking; for instance, it would indicate that in addition to eating "materials" (in the form of carbohydrates, proteins, etc), you are also eating "information" (as different miRNAs from distinct food sources could well bear different consequences on the regulation of host physiology once taken by the host due to potential regulation of different target genes as determined by the "information" contained within the miRNA sequence), thus providing a whole new dimension to "You are what you eat." Furthermore, the potential significances of this finding would be:

  1. has significantly expanded the functions of miRNAs;
  2. is an extremely intriguing and novel idea that has far-ranging implications for human health and metabolism;
  3. shed new light on our understanding of cross-kingdom (such as animal-plant) interactions, or perhaps even the 'co-evolution', and to open new ways of thinking about regulation of miRNAs, and about the potential roles of exogenous miRNAs such as those from food, plants and insects in prey-predator interactions;
  4. provides evidence that plant miRNAs maybe the seventh "nutrient" in the food (the six others are: H2O, protein, FFA, carbohydrate, vitamins and real elements);
  5. provides a novel mechanism of development of metabolic disorder.
  6. provides evidence that plant miRNAs may represent essential functional molecules in Chinese traditional herb medicine,

Importantly, these results have far-reaching implications, including the establishment of a powerful experimental methodology to deliver small RNAs to animals for in vivo gene silencing and miRNA gain-of-function studies. These findings also have major implications for the genetic engineering of plants using RNAi technologies and for the development of therapeutics that rely on small RNA delivery, since those interested in therapeutic applications of small RNAs inject doses of formulated or non-formulated RNAs that are up to 100mg/kg body weight -- unimaginably higher -- and have difficulty seeing an effect.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Nanjing University School of Life Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lin Zhang, Dongxia Hou, Xi Chen, Donghai Li, Lingyun Zhu, Yujing Zhang, Jing Li, Zhen Bian, Xiangying Liang, Xing Cai, Yuan Yin, Cheng Wang, Tianfu Zhang, Dihan Zhu, Dianmu Zhang, Jie Xu, Qun Chen, Yi Ba, Jing Liu, Qiang Wang, Jianqun Chen, Jin Wang, Meng Wang, Qipeng Zhang, Junfeng Zhang, Ke Zen and Chen-Yu Zhang. Exogenous plant MIR168a specifically targets mammalian LDLRAP1: evidence of cross-kingdom regulation by microRNA. Cell Research, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/cr.2011.158

Cite This Page:

Nanjing University School of Life Sciences. "Plant miRNAs could enter host blood and tissues via food intake, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919074242.htm>.
Nanjing University School of Life Sciences. (2011, September 19). Plant miRNAs could enter host blood and tissues via food intake, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919074242.htm
Nanjing University School of Life Sciences. "Plant miRNAs could enter host blood and tissues via food intake, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919074242.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 13, 2014) Roars of excitement as a proud lioness shows off her four cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins