Large Differences in Small RNA Composition Between Human Biofluids

Paula M. Godoy, Nirav R. Bhakta, Andrea J. Barczak, Hakan Cakmak, Susan Fisher, Tippi C. MacKenzie, Tushar Patel, Richard W. Price, James F. Smith, Prescott G. Woodruff, David J. Erle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Extracellular microRNAs (miRNAs) and other small RNAs are implicated in cellular communication and may be useful as disease biomarkers. We systematically compared small RNAs in 12 human biofluid types using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). miRNAs and tRNA-derived RNAs (tDRs) accounted for the majority of mapped reads in all biofluids, but the ratio of miRNA to tDR reads varied from 72 in plasma to 0.004 in bile. miRNA levels were highly correlated across all biofluids, but levels of some miRNAs differed markedly between biofluids. tDR populations differed extensively between biofluids. Y RNA fragments were seen in all biofluids and accounted for >10% of reads in blood plasma, serum, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Reads mapping exclusively to Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) were very rare, except in seminal plasma. These results demonstrate extensive differences in small RNAs between human biofluids and provide a useful resource for investigating extracellular RNA biology and developing biomarkers. Using a standardized sequencing-based approach, Godoy et al. characterize small RNAs in 12 normal human biofluids. They find that each biofluid contains an extensive collection of small RNAs that belong to multiple biotypes. The relative abundance of these RNAs varies widely between biofluids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1346-1358
Number of pages13
JournalCell reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 30 2018


  • Y RNA
  • biofluids
  • extracellular RNA
  • miRNA
  • tRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Large Differences in Small RNA Composition Between Human Biofluids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this