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Depletion of METTL3 alters cellular and extracellular levels of miRNAs containing mA consensus sequences


Abner JJJessica J , Franklin JLJeffrey L , Clement MAMargaret A , Hinger SAScott A , Allen RMRyan M , Liu XXiao , Kellner SStefanie , Wu JJunzhou , Karijolich JJohn , Liu QQi , Vickers KCKasey C , Dedon PPeter , Weaver AMAlissa M , Coffey RJRobert J , Patton JGJames G . Heliyon. 2021 12 2; 7(12). e08519


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are capable of transferring cargo from donor to recipient cells, but precisely how cargo content is regulated for export is mostly unknown. For miRNA cargo, we previously showed that when compared to isogenic colorectal cancer (CRC) cells expressing wild-type KRAS, a distinct subset of miRNAs are differentially enriched in EVs from KRAS mutant active CRC cells, with being one of the most enriched. The mechanisms that could explain how and other miRNAs are differentially exported into EVs have not been fully elucidated. Here, we tested the effect of N-methyladenosine (mA) modification on miRNA export into EVs by depletion of METTL3 and ALKBH5, a writer and eraser of mA modification, respectively. While the effects of ALKBH5 knockdown were quite modest, decreased levels of METTL3 led to reduced cellular and extracellular levels of a subset of miRNAs that contain consensus sequences for mA modification. Functional testing of EVs prepared from cells expressing shRNAs against METTL3 showed that they were less capable of conferring colony growth in 3D to wild-type KRAS cells and were also largely incapable of conferring the spread of cetuximab resistance. Our data support a role for METTL3 modification on cellular miRNA levels and export of specific miRNAs.