Platelets are multifunctional cell fragments, circulating in blood in high abundance. Platelets assist in thrombus formation, sensing of pathogens entering the blood stream, signaling to immune cells, releasing vascular remodeling factors, and, negatively, enhancing cancer metastasis. Platelets are ‘educated’ by their environment, including in patients with cancer. Cancer cells appear to initiate intraplatelet signaling, resulting in splicing of platelet pre-mRNAs, and enhance secretion of cytokines. Platelets can induce leukocyte and endothelial cell modeling factors, for example, through adenine nucleotides (ATP), thereby facilitating extravasation of cancer cells. Besides releasing factors, platelets can also sequester RNAs and proteins released by cancer cells. Thus, platelets actively respond to queues from local and systemic conditions, thereby altering their transcriptome and molecular content. Platelets contain a rich repertoire of RNA species, including mRNAs, small non-coding RNAs and circular RNAs; although studies regarding the functionality of the various platelet RNA species require more attention. Recent advances in high-throughput characterization of platelet mRNAs revealed 10 to > 1000 altered mRNAs in platelets in the presence of disease. Hence, platelet RNA appears to be dynamically affected by pathological conditions, thus possibly providing opportunities to use platelet RNA as diagnostic, prognostic, predictive, or monitoring biomarkers. In this review, we cover the literature regarding the platelet RNA families, processing of platelet RNAs, and the potential application of platelet RNA as disease biomarkers.
- tumor-educated platelets