Communication by HDL-miRNAs in Type 2 Diabetes
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that post-transcriptionally repress gene expression and are found in both cells and extracellular fluids, including plasma. Extracellular miRNAs are protected from circulating nucleases through their association with lipid and protein carriers, specifically exosomes and lipoproteins.. Currently, I am studying the role of high-density lipoproteins (HDL)-miRNAs as cell-to-cell messengers in a novel endocrine-like communication pathway within Type 2 diabetes. We found that many of the most abundant miRNAs on HDL are also enriched in insulin-producing β-cells in the islets of Langerhans. Additionally, we found that the miRNA signature on HDL is significantly altered in rat models of Type 2 diabetes; therefore, the goal of my project is to investigate the molecular mechanisms by which the β-cell-originating miRNAs control gene expression in distal tissues and how this pathway regulates systemic lipid and glucose metabolism. Using high-throughput genomics, I aim to decode and control miRNA intercellular communication to better understand and treat type 2 diabetes, including developing biomarkers to predict pre-diabetes.