Environmental neurotoxicant manganese regulates exosome-mediated extracellular miRNAs in cell culture model of Parkinson's disease: Relevance to α-synuclein misfolding in metal neurotoxicity

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Abstract

Many chronic neurodegenerative disorders share a common pathogenic mechanism involving the aggregation and deposition of misfolded proteins. Recently, it was shown that these aggregated proteins could be transferred from one cell to another via extracellular nanovesicles called exosomes. Initially thought to be a means of cellular waste removal, exosomes have since been discovered to actively participate in cell-to-cell communication. Importantly, various inflammatory and signaling molecules, as well as small RNAs are selectively packaged in these vesicles. Considering the important role of environmental manganese (Mn) in Parkinson's disease (PD)-like neurological disorders, we characterized the effect of Mn on exosome content and release using an MN9D dopaminergic cell model of PD, which was generated to stably express wild-type human α-synuclein (αSyn). Mn exposure (300 μM MnCl2) for 24 h induced the release of exosomes into the extracellular media prior to cytotoxicity, as determined by NanoSight particle analysis and electron microscopy. Strikingly, Western blot analysis revealed that Mn treatment in αSyn-expressing cells increases the protein Rab27a, which regulates the release of exosomes from cells. Moreover, next-generation sequencing showed more small RNAs in exosomes isolated from Mn-exposed cells than from control exosomes. Our miRNA profiling analysis led to the discovery of increased expression of certain miRNAs previously shown to regulate key biological pathways, including protein aggregation, autophagy, inflammation and hypoxia. Collectively, our results provide a glimpse of Mn's role in modulating extracellular miRNA content through exosomal release from dopaminergic neuronal cells and thus potentially contributing to progressive neurodegeneration. Further characterization of extracellular miRNAs and their targets will have major impacts on biomarker discovery and translational strategies for environmentally linked neurodegenerative diseases including PD.

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