Month: February 2015

Purpose
The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to invite applications that explore new research on the potential role of exosomes in cell-to-cell communication relevant to the impact of exosomes on HIV transmission, innate or adaptive immune responses to HIV, or HIV pathogenesis. This FOA solicits early-stage, exploratory projects with little to no preliminary data. Please note, there are research topics that are NOT supported by this FOA such as projects that focus on HIV hijacking the exosome release pathway for viral egress.

Background
Exosomes are small vesicles (30-100 nm) released from cells that were first described in the early 1980s. Since then, exosomes have been found to carry RNA, protein or lipid to a distant cell with the potential to change the phenotype of the recipient cell. The role of exosomes in cell-to-cell communication is an emerging area of biology that has been recognized as critical towards understanding regulation of the innate and adaptive immune response, cancer cell biology, and neurological disorders.
In the early to mid-2000’s, a large body of research focused on understanding how HIV hijacks the cellular exosome release pathway for viral egress. This avenue of research identified many virus-host interactions and identified viral egress pathways in T-cells and macrophages.
A current gap in our understanding is how exosomes carrying biologically active cargo may influence cell-to-cell communication relevant to HIV pathogenesis, the host response to HIV, and/or transmission of HIV. Studies looking at the function of exosomes in acute infection, or in chronic infection in individuals on fully suppressive antiretroviral regimens are encouraged.

The FOA is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-15-107.html.

We continue to curate relevant pathways for the exRNA portal at WikiPathways, highlighting the mechanisms of exRNA signaling and regulation. The latest set of pathways represent a range of topics, including microRNAs in osteoclastogenesis (WP2866) and new findings in RNA interference (WP2805). Several pathways describe results from studies conducted using exRNA as a research tool, including 1) the effects of a high fat diet on megakaryocyte and platelet function (WP2865), 2) extracellular vesicles as mediators of signal transduction (WP2870), and 3) the effects of tumor nutrient utilization on ovarian cancer progression (WP2868). Additionally, one study provided a network view of its findings on Notch3 apoptosis-related changes in ovarian cancer (WP2864). This pathway represents a great candidate for further curation.

The curation process involves transferring findings represented as a figure by creating a new pathway in gpml format, using the WikiPathways plugin for PathVisio. After upload to WikiPathways, the content is tagged with appropriate curation and ontology tags, to increase its utility and exposure.

The goal of the Wikipathways exRNA portal is to build a collection of pathway models for exRNA researchers to use for illustration, data visualization, and analysis. Each pathway is a self-contained data model that connects to identifier and annotation databases. In addition to providing static images for figures and presentations, these pathways can also be used by bioinformatics and network analysis packages such as Cytoscape and PathVisio. Furthermore, as a wiki, anyone can sign up to improve and grow the content. We invite you all to edit, fix, and add to the pathway models in the exRNA portal at WikiPathways.

The Wikipathways exRNA portal was developed by the Data Management and Resource Repository group, serving the data coordination and scientific outreach needs of the consortium. If you have questions and/or feedback on ways to improve the exRNA portal at WikiPathways, please contact info@exrna.org or Alex Pico at apico@gladstone.uscf.edu.