The NIH Common Fund-initiated Extracellular RNA Communication Consortium (ERCC) has a mandate to study RNA circulating in the body outside of cells. It turns out that extracellular RNA (exRNA) is often functional, and can be used as a biomarker to diagnose disease and track its progression. The ERCC has characterized the RNA profile of a range of biofluids. Saliva is unique in having a large fraction of exogenous exRNA, coming not from remote organs and tissues, but from the oral microbiome.
Many researchers and clinicians are still unaware that RNA communication between cells occurs and can be leveraged into a diagnostic tool. This symposium, to be held at AADR2018, the annual meeting of the American Association for Dental Research, will provide an overview of extracellular RNA and the ERC consortium, highlighting the data and analysis software available in the exRNA Atlas. There follows a use case showing how salivary exRNA can provide information about a systemic disease, in this instance differentiating sports players with concussion from those without. After highlighting new discoveries about oral exRNA biology and explaining how to tailor the analysis of RNA sequencing data from saliva to account for its high fraction of exogenous RNA, the topic shifts to the saliva proteome.
A key resource for studying oral biology and pathology, the NIDCR Human Salivary Proteome Wiki database, will be introduced and demonstrated. The symposium will end with an open-ended discussion between interested clinicians and basic scientists to strategize about how to integrate “big data” on both RNA and proteins to improve research and practice.