• Indraneel Mittra

Articles written in Journal of Biosciences

• Nucleic acids in circulation: Are they harmful to the host?

It has been estimated that 1011–1012 cells, primarily of haematogenous origin, die in the adult human body daily, and a similar number is regenerated to maintain homeostasis. Despite the presence of an efficient scavenging system for dead cells, considerable amounts of fragmented genetic material enter the circulation in healthy individuals. Elevated blood levels of extracellular nucleic acids have been reported in various disease conditions; such as ageing and age-related degenerative disorders, cancer; acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, severe trauma and autoimmune disorders. In addition to genomic DNA and nucleosomes, mitochondrial DNA is also found in circulation, as are RNA and microRNA. There is extensive literature that suggests that extraneously added nucleic acids have biological actions. They can enter into cells in vitro and in vivo and induce genetic transformation and cellular and chromosomal damage; and experimentally added nucleic acids are capable of activating both innate and adaptive immune systems and inducing a sterile inflammatory response. The possibility as to whether circulating nucleic acids may, likewise, have biological activities has not been explored. In this review we raise the question as to whether circulating nucleic acids may have damaging effects on the host and be implicated in ageing and diverse acute and chronic human pathologies.

• Circulating nucleic acids damage DNA of healthy cells by integrating into their genomes

Whether nucleic acids that circulate in blood have any patho-physiological functions in the host have not been explored. We report here that far from being inert molecules, circulating nucleic acids have significant biological activities of their own that are deleterious to healthy cells of the body. Fragmented DNA and chromatin (DNAfs and Cfs) isolated from blood of cancer patients and healthy volunteers are readily taken up by a variety of cells in culture to be localized in their nuclei within a few minutes. The intra-nuclear DNAfs and Cfs associate themselves with host cell chromosomes to evoke a cellular DNA-damage-repair-response (DDR) followed by their incorporation into the host cell genomes. Whole genome sequencing detected the presence of tens of thousands of human sequence reads in the recipient mouse cells. Genomic incorporation of DNAfs and Cfs leads to dsDNA breaks and activation of apoptotic pathways in the treated cells. When injected intravenously into Balb/C mice, DNAfs and Cfs undergo genomic integration into cells of their vital organs resulting in activation of DDR and apoptotic proteins in the recipient cells. Cfs have significantly greater activity than DNAfs with respect to all parameters examined, while both DNAfs and Cfs isolated from cancer patients are more active than those from normal volunteers. All the above pathological actions of DNAfs and Cfs described above can be abrogated by concurrent treatment with DNase I and/or anti-histone antibody complexed nanoparticles both in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, our results that circulating DNAfs and Cfs are physiological, continuously arising, endogenous DNA damaging agents with implications to ageing and a multitude of human pathologies including initiation of cancer.

• Cell-free chromatin: A newly described mediator of systemic inflammation

Recent research has shown that cell-free chromatin (cfCh) particles that are released from the billions of cells that die in thebody everyday can enter into healthy cells, integrate into their genomes and induce dsDNA breaks and apoptotic responses.Genomic integration of cfCh activates NF$/kappa$B suggesting a novel mechanism of induction of systemic inflammation. SinceDNA damage and inflammation are underlying pathologies in multiple devastating acute and chronic disease conditions,the discovery of agents that can inactivate cfCh may provide therapeutic possibilities.

• # Journal of Biosciences

Current Issue
Volume 44 | Issue 5
October 2019

• # Editorial Note on Continuous Article Publication

Posted on July 25, 2019