Circulating nucleic acids, encapsulated within small extracellular vesicles (EVs), provide a remote cellular snapshot of biomarkers derived from diseased tissues, however selective isolation is critical. Current laboratory-based purification techniques rely on the physical properties of small-EVs rather than their inherited cellular fingerprints. We established a highly-selective purification assay, termed EV-CATCHER, initially designed for high-throughput analysis of low-abundance small-RNA cargos by next-generation sequencing. We demonstrated its selectivity by specifically isolating and sequencing small-RNAs from mouse small-EVs spiked into human plasma. Western blotting, nanoparticle tracking, and transmission electron microscopy were used to validate and quantify the capture and release of intact small-EVs. As proof-of-principle for sensitive detection of circulating miRNAs, we compared small-RNA sequencing data from a subset of small-EVs serum-purified with EV-CATCHER to data from whole serum, using samples from a small cohort of recently hospitalized Covid-19 patients. We identified and validated, only in small-EVs, hsa-miR-146a and hsa-miR-126-3p to be significantly downregulated with disease severity. Separately, using convalescent sera from recovered Covid-19 patients with high anti-spike IgG titers, we confirmed the neutralizing properties, against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro, of a subset of small-EVs serum-purified by EV-CATCHER, as initially observed with ultracentrifuged small-EVs. Altogether our data highlight the sensitivity and versatility of EV-CATCHER.
Keywords: TEM; exosome purification; extracellular vesicles; micro‐RNA profiling; sequencing.
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Extracellular Vesicles published by Wiley Periodicals, LLC on behalf of the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles.