Quantitative comparison of the mRNA content of human iPSC-derived motor neurons and their extracellular vesicles

FEBS Open Bio. 2021 Feb;11(2):494-506. doi: 10.1002/2211-5463.13059. Epub 2021 Feb 2.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) contain various cargo molecules, including RNAs and proteins. EVs, which include exosomes, are predicted to be suitable surrogates of their source cells for liquid biopsy to measure biomarkers. Several studies have performed qualitative comparisons of cargo molecule repertoires between source cells and their EVs. However, quantitative comparisons have not been reported so far. Furthermore, many studies analyzed microRNAs or proteins in EVs, but not mRNAs. In this study, we analyzed mRNAs in motor neurons and their EVs. Normal human-induced pluripotent stem cells were differentiated into motor neurons, and comprehensive analysis of mRNAs in the cells and their EVs was performed by RNA sequencing. Differential analysis between cellular and EV mRNAs was performed by edgeR after normalization of read count. The results suggest that signatures in the abundance of EV mRNAs were different from those of cellular mRNAs. Comparison of intracellular vesicle and EV mRNA abundance showed negatively and positively biased genes in the EVs. Gene Ontology analysis revealed that the genes showing negatively biased abundance in the EVs were enriched in many functions regarding neuronal development. In contrast, the positively biased genes were enriched in functions regarding cellular metabolism and protein synthesis. These results suggest that mRNAs in motor neurons are loaded into EVs to regulate certain mechanisms, which are yet to be elucidated.

Keywords: RNA sequencing; biomarker; exosome; extracellular vesicle; induced pluripotent stem cell; motor neuron.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
  • Liquid Biopsy / methods
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • RNA, Messenger