About this Research Topic
The impact of ingested RNA from vegetable food sources on gene expression in nematodes and insects is something that has been known for a long time. More recently, a similar phenomenon has also been reported in human and other mammals. This discovery brought on what has been called the “xenomiR hypothesis,” which give rise to a new research field in nutrition based on the concept that plant miRNAs can target and regulate the expression of animal genes. Altogether, these findings have generated both excitement and controversy, with a critical debate as to whether the plant-derived miRNAs detected in animal samples represent contamination during experiments or bona fide xenomiRs. Different published studies have provided evidence that plant-derived miRNAs could survive the digestive system, be absorbed and transferred into the blood, circulate through the body, regulate animal gene expression as endogenous RNAs, and induce different phenotypes. On the other side, accumulating evidence demonstrates that miRNAs can be transferred to neighboring or distant cells via secreted endoplasmic vesicles (EVs), such as exosomes, and act as a modulator of cell function. Notably, the diet has a considerable effect on the composition of the human gut microbiota that in turn has an essential role in maintaining host physiology and its health condition. In this context, a recent study showed that plant-derived exosome-like nanoparticles (ELNs) are adsorbed by the gut microbiota and contain RNAs that alter microbiome composition and host physiology.
The present Research Topic focuses on studies and methodological approaches that can shed light on the molecular mechanisms and biological processes of a possible cross-kingdom genetic interaction between plant RNA and human genes or the microbiome. It will also feature perspectives of the potential impact of these findings on the improvement of nutrition for human health, effects on the gut microbiome, and the therapeutic potential of these RNAs in the medical field.
This Research Topic includes, but is not limited to, the following aspects:
· Nutrigenomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, and microbiome studies investigating a potential cross-kingdom genetic interaction between bioavailable plant nutrients and human gene expression or gut microbiome regulation
· Bioinformatics, computational biology, and machine learning models and applications that can aid big data analysis and research in this field
Keywords: plant ncRNAs, gut microbiome, gene expression, nutrition, nutrigenetics, plant miRNAs
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