Antoniou A, Auderset L, Kaurani L, Sebastian E, Zeng Y, Allahham M, Cases-Cunillera S, Schoch S, Gruendemann J, Fischer A, Schneider A
Cell Rep. 2023 Feb 6;42(2):112063.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have emerged as mediators of cellular communication, in part via the delivery of associated microRNAs (miRNAs), small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression. We show that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mediates the sorting of miR-132-5p, miR-218-5p, and miR-690 in neuron-derived EVs. BDNF-induced EVs in turn increase excitatory synapse formation in recipient hippocampal neurons, which is dependent on the inter-neuronal delivery of these miRNAs. Transcriptomic analysis further indicates the differential expression of developmental and synaptogenesis-related genes by BDNF-induced EVs, many of which are predicted targets of miR-132-5p, miR-218-5p, and miR-690. Furthermore, BDNF-induced EVs up-regulate synaptic vesicle (SV) clustering in a transmissible manner, thereby increasing synaptic transmission and synchronous neuronal activity. As BDNF and EV-miRNAs miR-218 and miR-132 were previously implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression, our results contribute to a better understanding of disorders characterized by aberrant neural circuit connectivity.