Release of extracellular vesicle miR-494-3p by ARPE-19 cells with impaired mitochondria

J. Y. Ahn, S. Datta, E. Bandeira, M. Cano, E. Mallick, U. Rai, B. Powell, J. Tian, K. W. Witwer, J. T. Handa, M. E. Paulaitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Mitochondrial function in retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells and extracellular vesicle (EV) formation/release are related through the lysosomal and exocytotic pathways that process and eliminate intracellular material, including mitochondrial fragments. We propose that RPE cells with impaired mitochondria will release EVs containing mitochondrial miRNAs that reflect the diminished capacity of mitochondria within these cells. Methods: We screened ARPE-19 cells for miRNAs that localize to the mitochondria, exhibit biological activity, and are present in EVs released by both untreated cells and cells treated with rotenone to induce mitochondrial injury. EVs were characterized by vesicle size, size distribution, presence of EV biomarkers: CD81, CD63, and syntenin-1, miRNA cargo, and number concentration of EVs released per cell. Results: We found that miR-494-3p was enriched in ARPE-19 mitochondria. Knockdown of miR-494-3p in ARPE-19 cells decreased ATP production and mitochondrial membrane potential in a dose-dependent manner, and decreased basal oxygen consumption rate and maximal respiratory capacity. Increased number of EVs released per cell and elevated levels of miR-494-3p in EVs released from ARPE-19 cells treated with rotenone were also measured. Conclusions: ARPE-19 mitochondrial function is regulated by miR-494-3p. Elevated levels of miR-494-3p in EVs released by ARPE-19 cells indicate diminished capacity of the mitochondria within these cells. General significance: EV miR-494-3p is a potential biomarker for RPE mitochondrial dysfunction, which plays a central role in non-neovascular age-related macular degeneration, and may be a diagnostic biomarker for monitoring the spread of degeneration to neighboring RPE cells in the retina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number129598
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Mitochondria
  • Retinal pigment epithelial cells
  • miR-494-3p
  • miRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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