The role of exosomes in the pathogenesis and metastatic spread of cancer remains to be fully elucidated. Recent studies support the hypothesis that the release of exosomes from cells modifies local extracellular conditions to promote cell growth and neovascularisation. In addition, exosomes may modify the phenotype of parent and/or target cell. For example, sequestration of signaling mediators into exosomes may reduce their intracellular bioavailability to the parent cell thereby altering cell phenotype and metastatic potential. The fusion of released exosomes with target cell and delivery may also modify cell function and activity. In this study, to further elucidate the role of exosomes in ovarian cancer, the release of exosomes from two ovarian cancer cell lines of different invasive capacity and their miRNA content of exosomes were compared. The hypothesis to be tested was that ovarian cancer cell invasiveness is associated with altered release of exosomes and discordant exosomal sequestration of miRNA.
High (SKOV-3) and low (OVCAR-3) invasive ovarian cancer cell lines were used to characterize their exosome release. SKOV-3 and OVCAR-3 cells were cultured (DMEM, 20% exosome-free FBS) under an atmosphere of 8% O2 for 24 hours. Cell-conditioned media were collected and exosomes were isolated by differential and buoyant density centrifugation and characterised by Western blot (CD63 and CD9). Exosomal microRNA (let-7a-f and miR-200a-c) content was established by real-time PCR.
Exosomes were identified with by the presence of typical cup-shaped spherical vesicle and the expression of exosome markers: CD63, CD9. SKOV-3 cells released 2.7-fold more exosomes (1.22 ± 0.11 μg/106 cells) compared to OVCAR-3 (0.44 ± 0.05 μg/106 cells). The let-7 family miRNA transcripts were identified in both ovarian cancer cell lines and their exosomes. The let-7 family transcripts were more abundant in OVCAR-3 cell than SKOV-3 cells. In contrast, let-7 family transcripts were more abundant in exosomes from SKOV-3 than OVCAR-3. miR-200 family transcripts were only identified in OVCAR-3 cells and their exosomes.
The data obtained in this study are consistent with the hypothesis that the releases of exosomes varies significantly between ovarian cancer cell lines and correlates with their invasive potential.
Ovarian cancer; Exosomes; microRNA; Biomarkers; Invasion
Radiation and drug resistance are significant challenges in the treatment of locally advanced, recurrent and metastatic breast cancer that contribute to mortality. Clinically, radiotherapy requires oxygen to generate cytotoxic free radicals that cause DNA damage and allow that damage to become fixed in the genome rather than repaired. However, approximately 40% of all breast cancers have hypoxic tumor microenvironments that render cancer cells significantly more resistant to irradiation. Hypoxic stimuli trigger changes in the cell death/survival pathway that lead to increased cellular radiation resistance. As a result, the development of noninvasive strategies to assess tumor hypoxia in breast cancer has recently received considerable attention. Exosomes are secreted nanovesicles that have roles in paracrine signaling during breast tumor progression, including tumor-stromal interactions, activation of proliferative pathways and immunosuppression. The recent development of protocols to isolate and purify exosomes, as well as advances in mass spectrometry-based proteomics have facilitated the comprehensive analysis of exosome content and function. Using these tools, studies have demonstrated that the proteome profiles of tumor-derived exosomes are indicative of the oxygenation status of patient tumors. They have also demonstrated that exosome signaling pathways are potentially targetable drivers of hypoxia-dependent intercellular signaling during tumorigenesis. This article provides an overview of how proteomic tools can be effectively used to characterize exosomes and elucidate fundamental signaling pathways and survival mechanisms underlying hypoxia-mediated radiation resistance in breast cancer.
hypoxia; radiation; breast cancer; tumor microenvironment; exosomes; proteomics
Exosomes are membranous nanovesicles released by most cell types from multi-vesicular endosomes. They are speculated to transfer molecules to neighboring or distant cells and modulate many physiological and pathological procedures. Exosomes released from the gastrointestinal epithelium to the basolateral side have been implicated in antigen presentation. Here, we report that luminal release of exosomes from the biliary and intestinal epithelium is increased following infection by the protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium parvum. Release of exosomes involves activation of TLR4/IKK2 signaling through promoting the SNAP23-associated vesicular exocytotic process. Downregulation of let-7 family miRNAs by activation of TLR4 signaling increases SNAP23 expression, coordinating exosome release in response to C. parvum infection. Intriguingly, exosomes carry antimicrobial peptides of epithelial cell origin, including cathelicidin-37 and beta-defensin 2. Activation of TLR4 signaling enhances exosomal shuttle of epithelial antimicrobial peptides. Exposure of C. parvum sporozoites to released exosomes decreases their viability and infectivity both in vitro and ex vivo. Direct binding to the C. parvum sporozoite surface is required for the anti-C. parvum activity of released exosomes. Biliary epithelial cells also increase exosomal release and display exosome-associated anti-C. parvum activity following LPS stimulation. Our data indicate that TLR4 signaling regulates luminal exosome release and shuttling of antimicrobial peptides from the gastrointestinal epithelium, revealing a new arm of mucosal immunity relevant to antimicrobial defense.
Exosomes are secreted membranous nanovesicles produced by a variety of cells. Exosomes shuttle various molecules to transfer them to neighboring or distant cells, and have been implicated as mediators in cell-cell communications to modulate physiological and pathological procedures. Here, we report that luminal release of exosomal vesicles is an important component of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)-associated gastrointestinal epithelial defense against infection by Cryptosporidium parvum, an obligate intracellular protozoan that infects gastrointestinal epithelial cells. Activation of TLR4 signaling in host epithelial cells following C. parvum infection promotes luminal release of epithelial exosomes and exosomal shuttling of antimicrobial peptides from the epithelium. By direct binding to the C. parvum surface, exosomal vesicles reveal anti-C. parvum activity. Activation of TLR4 signaling in epithelial cells after LPS stimulation also increases exosomal release and exosome-associated anti-C. parvum activity. Therefore, we speculate that TLR4-mediated exosome release may be relevant to innate mucosal immunity in general, representing a new target for therapeutic intervention for infectious diseases at the mucosal surface.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a natural compound with anticancer and anti-angiogenesis activity that is currently under investigation as both a preventative agent and an adjuvant to breast cancer therapy. However, the precise mechanisms of DHA’s anticancer activities are unclear. It is understood that the intercommunication between cancer cells and their microenvironment is essential to tumor angiogenesis. Exosomes are extracellular vesicles that are important mediators of intercellular communication and play a role in promoting angiogenesis. However, very little is known about the contribution of breast cancer exosomes to tumor angiogenesis or whether exosomes can mediate DHA’s anticancer action.
Exosomes were collected from MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells after treatment with DHA. We observed an increase in exosome secretion and exosome microRNA contents from the DHA-treated cells. The expression of 83 microRNAs in the MCF7 exosomes was altered by DHA (>2-fold). The most abundant exosome microRNAs (let-7a, miR-23b, miR-27a/b, miR-21, let-7, and miR-320b) are known to have anti-cancer and/or anti-angiogenic activity. These microRNAs were also increased by DHA treatment in the exosomes from other breast cancer lines (MDA-MB-231, ZR751 and BT20), but not in exosomes from normal breast cells (MCF10A). When DHA-treated MCF7 cells were co-cultured with or their exosomes were directly applied to endothelial cell cultures, we observed an increase in the expression of these microRNAs in the endothelial cells. Furthermore, overexpression of miR-23b and miR-320b in endothelial cells decreased the expression of their pro-angiogenic target genes (PLAU, AMOTL1, NRP1 and ETS2) and significantly inhibited tube formation by endothelial cells, suggesting that the microRNAs transferred by exosomes mediate DHA’s anti-angiogenic action. These effects could be reversed by knockdown of the Rab GTPase, Rab27A, which controls exosome release.
We conclude that DHA alters breast cancer exosome secretion and microRNA contents, which leads to the inhibition of angiogenesis. Our data demonstrate that breast cancer exosome signaling can be targeted to inhibit tumor angiogenesis and provide new insight into DHA’s anticancer action, further supporting its use in cancer therapy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12943-015-0400-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Exosomes are nanovesicles originating from multivesicular bodies and are released by all cell types. They contain proteins, lipids, microRNAs, mRNAs and DNA fragments, which act as mediators of intercellular communications by inducing phenotypic changes in recipient cells. Tumor-derived exosomes have been shown to play critical roles in different stages of tumor development and metastasis of almost all types of cancer. One of the ways by which exosomes affect tumorigenesis is to manipulate the tumor microenvironments to create tumor permissive “niches”. Whether breast cancer cell secreted exosomes manipulate epithelial cells of the mammary duct to facilitate tumor development is not known. To address whether and how breast cancer cell secreted exosomes manipulate ductal epithelial cells we studied the interactions between exosomes isolated from conditioned media of 3 different breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231, T47DA18 and MCF7), representing three different types of breast carcinomas, and normal human primary mammary epithelial cells (HMECs). Our studies show that exosomes released by breast cancer cell lines are taken up by HMECs, resulting in the induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and autophagy. Inhibition of ROS by N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) led to abrogation of autophagy. HMEC-exosome interactions also induced the phosphorylation of ATM, H2AX and Chk1 indicating the induction of DNA damage repair (DDR) responses. Under these conditions, phosphorylation of p53 at serine 15 was also observed. Both DDR responses and phosphorylation of p53 induced by HMEC-exosome interactions were also inhibited by NAC. Furthermore, exosome induced autophagic HMECs were found to release breast cancer cell growth promoting factors. Taken together, our results suggest novel mechanisms by which breast cancer cell secreted exosomes manipulate HMECs to create a tumor permissive microenvironment.
Exosomes are 30-100 nm membrane vesicles of endocytic origin, mediating diverse biological functions including tumor cell invasion, cell-cell communication and antigen presentation through transfer of proteins, mRNAs and microRNAs. Recent evidence suggests that microRNAs can be released through ceramide-dependent secretory machinery regulated by neutral sphingomyelinase 2 (nSMase2) enzyme encoded by the smpd3 gene that triggers exosome secretion. However, whether exosome-mediated microRNA transfer plays any role in cell invasion remains poorly understood. Thus, the aim of this study was to identify the exosomal microRNAs involved in breast cancer invasion.
The expression level of endogenous and exosomal miRNAs were examined by real time PCR and the expression level of target proteins were detected by western blot. Scanning electron and confocal microscopy were used to characterize exosomes and to study its uptake and transfer. Luciferase reporter plasmids and its mutant were used to confirm direct targeting. Furthermore, the functional significance of exosomal miR-10b was estimated by invasion assay.
In this study, we demonstrate that microRNA carrying exosomes can be transferred among different cell lines through direct uptake. miR-10b is highly expressed in metastatic breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells as compared to non-metastatic breast cancer cells or non-malignant breast cells; it is actively secreted into medium via exosomes. In particular, nSMase2 or ceramide promotes the exosome-mediated miR-10b secretion whereas ceramide inhibitor suppresses this secretion. Moreover, upon uptake, miR-10b can suppress the protein level of its target genes such as HOXD10 and KLF4, indicating its functional significance. Finally, treatment with exosomes derived from MDA-MB-231 cells could induce the invasion ability of non-malignant HMLE cells.
Together, our results suggest that a set of specific microRNAs may play an important role in modulating tumor microenvironment through exosomes. Thus, a better understanding of this process may aid in the development of novel therapeutic agents.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-256) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Exosome; microRNA; miR-10b; Invasion
For metastasis to occur cells must communicate with to their local environment to initiate growth and invasion. Exosomes have emerged as an important mediator of cell-to-cell signalling through the transfer of molecules such as mRNAs, microRNAs, and proteins between cells. Exosomes have been proposed to act as regulators of cancer progression. Here, we study the effect of exosomes on cell migration, an important step in metastasis. We performed cell migration assays, endocytosis assays, and exosome proteomic profiling on exosomes released from three breast cancer cell lines that model progressive stages of metastasis. Results from these experiments suggest: (1) exosomes promote cell migration and (2) the signal is stronger from exosomes isolated from cells with higher metastatic potentials; (3) exosomes are endocytosed at the same rate regardless of the cell type; (4) exosomes released from cells show differential enrichment of proteins with unique protein signatures of both identity and abundance. We conclude that breast cancer cells of increasing metastatic potential secrete exosomes with distinct protein signatures that proportionally increase cell movement and suggest that released exosomes could play an active role in metastasis.
Exosomes are small extracellular nanovesicles of endocytic origin that mediate different signals between cells, by surface interactions and by shuttling functional RNA from one cell to another. Exosomes are released by many cells including mast cells, dendritic cells, macrophages, epithelial cells and tumour cells. Exosomes differ compared to their donor cells, not only in size, but also in their RNA, protein and lipid composition.
In this study, we show that exosomes, released by mouse mast cells exposed to oxidative stress, differ in their mRNA content. Also, we show that these exosomes can influence the response of other cells to oxidative stress by providing recipient cells with a resistance against oxidative stress, observed as an attenuated loss of cell viability. Furthermore, Affymetrix microarray analysis revealed that the exosomal mRNA content not only differs between exosomes and donor cells, but also between exosomes derived from cells grown under different conditions; oxidative stress and normal conditions. Finally, we also show that exposure to UV-light affects the biological functions associated with exosomes released under oxidative stress.
These results argue that the exosomal shuttle of RNA is involved in cell-to-cell communication, by influencing the response of recipient cells to an external stress stimulus.
The field of exosome research is rapidly expanding, with a dramatic increase in publications in recent years. These small vesicles (30-100 nm) of endocytic origin were first proposed to function as a way for reticulocytes to eradicate the transferrin receptor while maturing into erythrocytes1, and were later named exosomes. Exosomes are formed by inward budding of late endosomes, producing multivesicular bodies (MVBs), and are released into the environment by fusion of the MVBs with the plasma membrane2. Since the first discovery of exosomes, a wide range of cells have been shown to release these vesicles. Exosomes have also been detected in several biological fluids, including plasma, nasal lavage fluid, saliva and breast milk3-6. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that the content and function of exosomes depends on the originating cell and the conditions under which they are produced. A variety of functions have been demonstrated for exosomes, such as induction of tolerance against allergen7,8, eradication of established tumors in mice9, inhibition and activation of natural killer cells10-12, promotion of differentiation into T regulatory cells13, stimulation of T cell proliferation14 and induction of T cell apoptosis15. Year 2007 we demonstrated that exosomes released from mast cells contain messenger RNA (mRNA) and microRNA (miRNA), and that the RNA can be shuttled from one cell to another via exosomes. In the recipient cells, the mRNA shuttled by exosomes was shown to be translated into protein, suggesting a regulatory function of the transferred RNA16. Further, we have also shown that exosomes derived from cells grown under oxidative stress can induce tolerance against further stress in recipient cells and thus suggest a biological function of the exosomal shuttle RNA17. Cell culture media and biological fluids contain a mixture of vesicles and shed fragments. A high quality isolation method for exosomes, followed by characterization and identification of the exosomes and their content, is therefore crucial to distinguish exosomes from other vesicles and particles. Here, we present a method for the isolation of exosomes from both cell culture medium and body fluids. This isolation method is based on repeated centrifugation and filtration steps, followed by a final ultracentrifugation step in which the exosomes are pelleted. Important methods to identify the exosomes and characterize the exosomal morphology and protein content are highlighted, including electron microscopy, flow cytometry and Western blot. The purification of the total exosomal RNA is based on spin column chromatography and the exosomal RNA yield and size distribution is analyzed using a Bioanalyzer.
Molecular Biology; Issue 59; Exosomes; microvesicles; mRNA; miRNA; RNA isolation; flow cytometry; electron microscopy; Western blot; Bioanalyzer
It has emerged recently that exosomes are potential carriers of pro-tumorigenic factors that participate in oncogenesis. However, whether oncogenic transcription factors are transduced by exosomes is unknown. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF1α) transcriptionally regulates numerous key aspects of tumor development and progression by promoting a more aggressive tumor phenotype, characterized by increased proliferation and invasiveness coupled with neoangiogenesis. It has been shown that the principal oncoprotein of Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1), drives oncogenic processes and tumor progression of the highly invasive EBV malignancy, nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). We now demonstrate that endogenous HIF1α is detectable in exosomes and that LMP1 significantly increases levels of HIF1α in exosomes. HIF1 recovered from exosomes retains DNA-binding activity and is transcriptionally active in recipient cells after exosome uptake. We also show that treatment of EBV-negative cells with LMP1-exosomes increases migration and invasiveness of NP cell lines in functional assays, which correlates with the phenotype associated with epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). In addition, we provide evidence that HIF1α itself participates in exosome-mediated pro-metastatic effects in recipient cells, as exosome-mediated delivery of active and inactive forms of HIF1α results in reciprocal changes in the expression of E- and N-cadherins associated with EMT. Further, immunohistochemical analysis of NPC tumor tissues revealed direct correlation between protein levels of LMP1 and of the endosome/exosome marker tetraspanin, CD63, which suggests an increase in exosome formation in this EBV-positive malignancy. We hypothesize that exosome-mediated transfer of functional pro-metastatic factors by LMP1-positive NPC cells to surrounding tumor cells promotes cancer progression.
It has emerged recently that exosomes are potential carriers of pro-tumorigenic factors that participate in oncogenesis. However whether oncogenic transcription factors are transduced by exosomes is unknown. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1α) transcriptionally regulates numerous key aspects of tumor development and progression by promoting a more aggressive tumor phenotype, characterized by increased proliferation and invasiveness coupled with neoangiogenesis. It has been shown that the principal oncoprotein of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), Latent Membrane Protein 1 (LMP1), drives oncogenic processes and tumor progression of the highly invasive EBV malignancy, nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). We now demonstrate that endogenous HIF-1α is detectable in exosomes, and that LMP1 significantly increases levels of HIF-1α in exosomes. HIF-1 recovered from exosomes retains DNA-binding activity and is transcriptionally active in recipient cells after exosome uptake. We show also that treatment of EBV-negative cells with LMP1-exosomes increases migration and invasiveness of NP cell lines in functional assays, which correlates with the phenotype associated with Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition (EMT). In addition we provide evidence that HIF1α itself participates in exosome-mediated pro-metastatic effects in recipient cells, since exosome-mediated delivery of active and inactive forms of HIF-1α results in reciprocal changes in expression of E- and N-cadherins associated with EMT. Further, immunohistochemical analysis of NPC tumor tissues revealed direct correlation between protein levels of LMP1 and of the endosome/exosome marker tetraspanin, CD63, which suggests an increase in exosome formation in this EBV-positive malignancy. We hypothesize that exosome-mediated transfer of functional pro-metastatic factors by LMP1-positive NPC cells to surrounding tumor cells promotes cancer progression.
Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1alpha; exosome; Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition; Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma; Epstein-Barr virus; Latent Membrane Protein 1
Background: Contribution of exosomal microRNAs to cancer metastasis remains unknown.
Results: Exosomal angiogenic microRNAs secreted by metastatic cancer cells promote the metastasis through the activation of endothelial cells.
Conclusion: Horizontal transfer of exosomal miRNAs from cancer cells can dictate the microenviromental niche for the benefit of the cancer cell.
Significance: This is the first to connect cancer metastasis to the exosomal microRNA in vivo.
The release of humoral factors between cancer cells and the microenvironmental cells is critical for metastasis; however, the roles of secreted miRNAs in non-cell autonomous cancer progression against microenvironmental cells remain largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the neutral sphyngomyelinase 2 (nSMase2) regulates exosomal microRNA (miRNA) secretion and promotes angiogenesis within the tumor microenvironment as well as metastasis. We demonstrate a requirement for nSMase2-mediated cancer cell exosomal miRNAs in the regulation of metastasis through the induction of angiogenesis in inoculated tumors. In addition, miR-210, released by metastatic cancer cells, was shown to transport to endothelial cells and suppress the expression of specific target genes, which resulted in enhanced angiogenesis. These findings suggest that the horizontal transfer of exosomal miRNAs from cancer cells can dictate the microenviromental niche for the benefit of the cancer cell, like “on demand system” for cancer cells.
Angiogenesis; Cell Biology; Cell-cell Interaction; Exosomes; Metastasis; MicroRNA; Tumor Microenvironment; Extracellular Vesicles; Cell-cell Communication; miR-210
Exosomes are small membrane vesicles released by a variety of cell types. Exosomes contain genetic materials, such as mRNAs and microRNAs (miRNAs), implying that they may play a pivotal role in cell-to-cell communication. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which potentially differentiate into multiple cell types, can migrate to the tumor sites and have been reported to exert complex effects on tumor progression. To elucidate the role of MSCs within the tumor microenvironment, previous studies have suggested various mechanisms such as immune modulation and secreted factors of MSCs. However, the paracrine effects of MSC-derived exosomes on the tumor microenvironment remain to be explored. The hypothesis of this study was that MSC-derived exosomes might reprogram tumor behavior by transferring their molecular contents. To test this hypothesis, exosomes from MSCs were isolated and characterized. MSC-derived exosomes exhibited different protein and RNA profiles compared with their donor cells and these vesicles could be internalized by breast cancer cells. The results demonstrated that MSC-derived exosomes significantly down-regulated the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in tumor cells, which lead to inhibition of angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Additionally, miR-16, a miRNA known to target VEGF, was enriched in MSC-derived exosomes and it was partially responsible for the anti-angiogenic effect of MSC-derived exosomes. The collective results suggest that MSC-derived exosomes may serve as a significant mediator of cell-to-cell communication within the tumor microenvironment and suppress angiogenesis by transferring anti-angiogenic molecules.
Mutant KRAS colorectal cancer (CRC) cells release protein-laden exosomes that can alter the tumor microenvironment. To test whether exosomal RNAs also contribute to changes in gene expression in recipient cells, and whether mutant KRAS might regulate the composition of secreted microRNAs (miRNAs), we compared small RNAs of cells and matched exosomes from isogenic CRC cell lines differing only in KRAS status. We show that exosomal profiles are distinct from cellular profiles, and mutant exosomes cluster separately from wild-type KRAS exosomes. miR-10b was selectively increased in wild-type exosomes, while miR-100 was increased in mutant exosomes. Neutral sphingomyelinase inhibition caused accumulation of miR-100 only in mutant cells, suggesting KRAS-dependent miRNA export. In Transwell co-culture experiments, mutant donor cells conferred miR-100-mediated target repression in wild-type-recipient cells. These findings suggest that extracellular miRNAs can function in target cells and uncover a potential new mode of action for mutant KRAS in CRC.
Cells use several different methods to control which genes are expressed to produce the proteins and RNA molecules that they need to work efficiently. The first step of gene expression is to transcribe a gene to form an RNA molecule. Protein-coding mRNA molecules can then be translated to make proteins. However, many RNA transcripts do not encode proteins. One example of these non-coding RNAs is a class of small RNAs called microRNAs (miRNAs), which are predicted to target more than 60% of protein-coding genes and can control which proteins are made.
It was once thought that miRNAs exist only within the cell where they are synthesized. Recently, however, miRNAs have been found outside the cell bound to lipids and proteins, or encased in extracellular vesicles, such as exosomes. Exosomes are small bubble-like structures used by cells to export material into the space outside of cells. Exosomes containing miRNAs can circulate throughout the body, potentially transferring information between cells to alter gene expression in recipient cells.
Many colorectal cancer cells have mutations in a gene that encodes a protein called KRAS. In 2011 and 2013, researchers found that the contents of the exosomes released from these mutant KRAS colorectal cancer cells can influence normal cells in ways that would help a cancer to spread. Furthermore, the exosomes released from the KRAS mutant cells contain different proteins than non-mutant cells.
Now, Cha, Franklin et al.—including several researchers who worked on the 2011 and 2013 studies—show that exosomes released by mutant KRAS cells also contain miRNAs, and that these miRNAs are different from the ones exported in exosomes by cells with a normal copy of the KRAS gene. In particular, several miRNAs that suppress cancer growth in a healthy cell are found at lower levels in mutant KRAS cells. Instead, these miRNAs are highly represented in the exosomes that are released by the KRAS mutant cells.
When cells with a normal copy of the KRAS gene were exposed to the contents of the exosomes released from KRAS mutant cells, an important gene involved in cell growth was suppressed. This indicates that the miRNAs exported from cancerous cells can influence gene expression in neighboring cells. Getting rid of such cancer-suppressing miRNAs could give cancer cells a growth advantage over normal cells to promote tumor growth. Cha, Franklin et al. also suggest that it might be possible to create a non-invasive test to detect colorectal cancer by monitoring the levels of circulating miRNAs in patients. Potential treatments for the disease could also target these miRNAs.
cancer; miRNA; KRAS; colorectal cancer; extracellular RNA; human
Migration of extravillous trophoblasts (EVT) into decidua and myometrium is a critical process in the conversion of maternal spiral arterioles and establishing placenta perfusion. EVT migration is affected by cell-to-cell communication and oxygen tension. While the release of exosomes from placental cells has been identified as a significant pathway in materno-fetal communication, the role of placental-derived exosomes in placentation has yet to be established. The aim of this study was to establish the effect of oxygen tension on the release and bioactivity of cytotrophoblast (CT)-derived exosomes on EVT invasion and proliferation. CT were isolated from first trimester fetal tissue (n = 12) using a trypsin-deoxyribonuclease-dispase/Percoll method. CT were cultured under 8%, 3% or 1% O2 for 48 h. Exosomes from CT-conditioned media were isolated by differential and buoyant density centrifugation. The effect of oxygen tension on exosome release (µg exosomal protein/106cells/48 h) and bioactivity were established. HTR-8/SVneo (EVT) were used as target cells to establish the effect (bioactivity) of exosomes on invasion and proliferation as assessed by real-time, live-cell imaging (Incucyte™). The release and bioactivity of CT-derived exosomes were inversely correlated with oxygen tension (p<0.001). Under low oxygen tensions (i.e. 1% O2), CT-derived exosomes promoted EVT invasion and proliferation. Proteomic analysis of exosomes identified oxygen-dependent changes in protein content. We propose that in response to changes in oxygen tension, CTs modify the bioactivity of exosomes, thereby, regulating EVT phenotype. Exosomal induction of EVT migration may represent a normal process of placentation and/or an adaptive response to placental hypoxia.
Dendritic and lymphoid ‘exosomes' regulate immune activation. Tumours release membranous material mimicking these ‘exosomes,' resulting in deletion of reactive lymphocytes. Tumour-derived ‘exosomes' have recently been explored as vaccines, without analysis of their immunologic consequences. This investigation examines the composition of tumour-derived ‘exosomes' and their effects on T lymphocytes. Membranous materials were isolated from ascites of ovarian cancer patients (n=6) and Western immunoblotting was performed for markers associated with ‘exosomes.' Using cultured T cells, ‘exosomes' were evaluated for suppression of CD3-ζ and JAK 3 expressions and induction of apoptosis, measured by DNA fragmentation. ‘Exosome' components mediating suppression of CD3-ζ were isolated by continuous eluting electrophoresis and examined by Western immunoblotting. ‘Exosomes' were shown to be identical with previously characterised shed membrane vesicles by protein staining and TSG101 expression. ‘Exosomes' expressed class I MHC, placental alkaline phosphatase, B23/nucleophosmin, and FasL. ‘Exosomes' suppressed expression of T-cell activation signalling components, CD3-ζ and JAK 3 and induced apoptosis. CD3-ζ suppression was mediated by two components: 26 and 42 kDa. Only the 42 kDa component reacted with anti-FasL antibody. These results indicate that, while ‘exosomes' express tumour antigens, leading to their proposed utility as tumour vaccines, they also can suppress T-cell signalling molecules and induce apoptosis.
exosomes; activation signaling; membrane vesicles; T lymphocytes; ovarian cancer
Exosomes are nanosized (30–100 nm) membrane vesicles secreted by most cell types. Exosomes have been found to contain various RNA species including miRNA, mRNA and long non-protein coding RNAs. A number of cancer cells produce elevated levels of exosomes. Because exosomes have been isolated from most body fluids they may provide a source for non-invasive cancer diagnostics. Transcriptome profiling that uses deep-sequencing technologies (RNA-Seq) offers enormous amount of data that can be used for biomarkers discovery, however, in case of exosomes this approach was applied only for the analysis of small RNAs. In this study, we utilized RNA-Seq technology to analyze RNAs present in microvesicles secreted by human breast cancer cell lines.
Exosomes were isolated from the media conditioned by two human breast cancer cell lines, MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-436. Exosomal RNA was profiled using the Ion Torrent semiconductor chip-based technology. Exosomes were found to contain various classes of RNA with the major class represented by fragmented ribosomal RNA (rRNA), in particular 28S and 18S rRNA subunits. Analysis of exosomal RNA content revealed that it reflects RNA content of the donor cells. Although exosomes produced by the two cancer cell lines shared most of the RNA species, there was a number of non-coding transcripts unique to MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-436 cells. This suggests that RNA analysis might distinguish exosomes produced by low metastatic breast cancer cell line (MDA-MB-436) from that produced by highly metastatic breast cancer cell line (MDA-MB-231). The analysis of gene ontologies (GOs) associated with the most abundant transcripts present in exosomes revealed significant enrichment in genes encoding proteins involved in translation and rRNA and ncRNA processing. These GO terms indicate most expressed genes for both, cellular and exosomal RNA.
For the first time, using RNA-seq, we examined the transcriptomes of exosomes secreted by human breast cancer cells. We found that most abundant exosomal RNA species are the fragments of 28S and 18S rRNA subunits. This limits the number of reads from other RNAs. To increase the number of detectable transcripts and improve the accuracy of their expression level the protocols allowing depletion of fragmented rRNA should be utilized in the future RNA-seq analyses on exosomes. Present data revealed that exosomal transcripts are representative of their cells of origin and thus could form basis for detection of tumor specific markers.
Exosomes; Microvesicles; Next generation sequencing; Breast cancer; Biomarkers
AIM: To investigate the mechanism underlying the promoting role of CD97 in gastric cancer cell proliferation and invasion.
METHODS: Two types of exosomes released by gastric cancer cells with high (SGC/wt) or low (SGC/kd) CD97 expression were isolated by ultracentrifugation and identified by electron microscopy and western blot analysis. The influences of the two exosomes on gastric cancer cell proliferation and invasion were investigated by proliferation and Matrigel invasion assays. Exosomal miRNAs were subsequently isolated from the two samples and their miRNA profiles were compared via microarray assay analysis. Reverse transcription-quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to validate the microarray assay. Target genes of the differently expressed microRNAs were predicted based on five independent algorithms and were then subjected to gene oncology enrichment and Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes (KEGG) pathway analysis. After identifying the pathway that was the most likely altered, tumor cells were treated with the two exosomes at different concentrations, and the pathway activation was identified through western blot analysis.
RESULTS: Exosomes isolated from SGC/wt cells significantly promoted tumor cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner in vitro. SGC/wt exosomes also significantly elevated the invasiveness of both SGC/wt (129.67 ± 8.327 vs 76.00 ± 5.292, P < 0.001) and SGC/kd (114.52 ± 9.814 vs 45.73 ± 4.835, P < 0.001) cells as compared to the exosomes released by SGC/kd cells. Microarray assay of the two exosomes revealed that 62 miRNAs were differently regulated with a signal intensity of > 500 and a false discovery rate < 0.05. The following KEGG analysis defined the MAPK signaling pathway as the most likely candidate pathway that regulated tumor cell proliferation and invasion. Through western blot analysis, significant up-regulations of phosphorylated MAPKs, including extracellular signal-regulated kinase, Jun NH2-terminal kinase, and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, were detected in a dose-dependent manner in the SGC/wt exosomes treated groups, confirming activation of the MAPK signaling pathway stimulated by SGC/wt exosomes.
CONCLUSION: CD97 promotes gastric cancer cell proliferation and invasion in vitro through exosome-mediated MAPK signaling pathway, and exosomal miRNAs are probably involved in activation of the CD97-associated pathway.
CD97; Exosome; Proliferation; Invasion; miRNA; Gastric cancer
Exosomes play a major role in cell-to-cell communication, targeting cells to transfer exosomal molecules including proteins, mRNAs, and microRNAs (miRNAs) by an endocytosis-like pathway. miRNAs are small noncoding RNA molecules on average 22 nucleotides in length that regulate numerous biological processes including cancer pathogenesis and mediate gene down-regulation by targeting mRNAs to induce RNA degradation and/or interfering with translation. Recent reports imply that miRNAs can be stably detected in circulating plasma and serum since miRNAs are packaged by exosomes to be protected from RNA degradation. Thus, profiling exosomal miRNAs are in need to clarify intercellular signaling and discover a novel disease marker as well.
Exosomes were isolated from cultured cancer cell lines and their quality was validated by analyses of transmission electron microscopy and western blotting. One of the cell lines tested, a metastatic gastric cancer cell line, AZ-P7a, showed the highest RNA yield in the released exosomes and distinctive shape in morphology. In addition, RNAs were isolated from cells and culture media, and profiles of these three miRNA fractions were obtained using microarray analysis. By comparing signal intensities of microarray data and the following validation using RT-PCR analysis, we found that let-7 miRNA family was abundant in both the intracellular and extracellular fractions from AZ-P7a cells, while low metastatic AZ-521, the parental cell line of AZ-P7a, as well as other cancer cell lines showed no such propensity.
The enrichment of let-7 miRNA family in the extracellular fractions, particularly, in the exosomes from AZ-P7a cells may reflect their oncogenic characteristics including tumorigenesis and metastasis. Since let-7 miRNAs generally play a tumor-suppressive role as targeting oncogenes such as RAS and HMGA2, our results suggest that AZ-P7a cells release let-7 miRNAs via exosomes into the extracellular environment to maintain their oncogenesis.
Hypoxia induces an inflammatory response in the lung manifested by alternative activation of macrophages with elevation of pro-inflammatory mediators that are critical for the later development of hypoxic pulmonary hypertension (HPH). Mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) transplantation inhibits lung inflammation, vascular remodeling and right heart failure, and reverses HPH in experimental models of disease. In this study, we aimed to investigate the paracrine mechanisms by which MSCs are protective in HPH.
Methods and Results
We fractionated mouse MSC-conditioned media to identify the biologically-active component affecting in vivo hypoxic signaling and determined that exosomes, secreted membrane microvesicles, suppressed the hypoxic pulmonary influx of macrophages and the induction of pro-inflammatory and pro-proliferative mediators, including monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and hypoxia-inducible mitogenic factor, in the murine model of HPH. Intravenous delivery of MSC-derived exosomes (MEX) inhibited vascular remodeling and HPH, whereas MEX-depleted media or fibroblast-derived exosomes had no effect. MEX suppressed the hypoxic activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and the upregulation of the miR-17 superfamily of microRNA clusters, whereas it increased lung levels of miR-204, a key microRNA whose expression is decreased in human PH. MEX produced by human umbilical cord MSCs inhibited STAT3 signaling in isolated human pulmonary artery endothelial cells demonstrating a direct effect of MEX on hypoxic vascular cells.
This study indicates that MEX exert a pleiotropic protective effect on the lung and inhibit PH through suppression of hyperproliferative pathways, including STAT-3 mediated signaling induced by hypoxia.
hypertension; pulmonary; inflammation; hypoxia; signal transduction
Diabetes mellitus is a common metabolic disorder characterized by dysfunction of insulin-secreting pancreatic beta-cells. MicroRNAs are important regulators of beta-cell activities. These non-coding RNAs have recently been discovered to exert their effects not only inside the cell producing them but, upon exosome-mediated transfer, also in other recipient cells. This novel communication mode remains unexplored in pancreatic beta-cells. In the present study, the microRNA content of exosomes released by beta-cells in physiological and physiopathological conditions was analyzed and the biological impact of their transfer to recipient cells investigated.
Exosomes were isolated from the culture media of MIN6B1 and INS-1 derived 832/13 beta-cell lines and from mice, rat or human islets. Global profiling revealed that the microRNAs released in MIN6B1 exosomes do not simply reflect the content of the cells of origin. Indeed, while a subset of microRNAs was preferentially released in exosomes others were selectively retained in the cells. Moreover, exposure of MIN6B1 cells to inflammatory cytokines changed the release of several microRNAs. The dynamics of microRNA secretion and their potential transfer to recipient cells were next investigated. As a proof-of-concept, we demonstrate that if cel-miR-238, a C. Elegans microRNA not present in mammalian cells, is expressed in MIN6B1 cells a fraction of it is released in exosomes and is transferred to recipient beta-cells. Furthermore, incubation of untreated MIN6B1 or mice islet cells in the presence of microRNA-containing exosomes isolated from the culture media of cytokine-treated MIN6B1 cells triggers apoptosis of recipient cells. In contrast, exosomes originating from cells not exposed to cytokines have no impact on cell survival. Apoptosis induced by exosomes produced by cytokine-treated cells was prevented by down-regulation of the microRNA-mediating silencing protein Ago2 in recipient cells, suggesting that the effect is mediated by the non-coding RNAs.
Taken together, our results suggest that beta-cells secrete microRNAs that can be transferred to neighboring beta-cells. Exposure of donor cells to pathophysiological conditions commonly associated with diabetes modifies the release of microRNAs and affects survival of recipient beta-cells. Our results support the concept that exosomal microRNAs transfer constitutes a novel cell-to-cell communication mechanism regulating the activity of pancreatic beta-cells.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12964-015-0097-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Exosomes; MicroRNAs; Pancreatic beta-cells; Cell-to-cell communication; Diabetes
Human placenta releases specific nanovesicles (i.e. exosomes) into the maternal circulation during pregnancy, however, the presence of placenta-derived exosomes in maternal blood during early pregnancy remains to be established. The aim of this study was to characterise gestational age related changes in the concentration of placenta-derived exosomes during the first trimester of pregnancy (i.e. from 6 to 12 weeks) in plasma from women with normal pregnancies.
A time-series experimental design was used to establish pregnancy-associated changes in maternal plasma exosome concentrations during the first trimester. A series of plasma were collected from normal healthy women (10 patients) at 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 weeks of gestation (n = 70). We measured the stability of these vesicles by quantifying and observing their protein and miRNA contents after the freeze/thawing processes. Exosomes were isolated by differential and buoyant density centrifugation using a sucrose continuous gradient and characterised by their size distribution and morphology using the nanoparticles tracking analysis (NTA; Nanosight™) and electron microscopy (EM), respectively. The total number of exosomes and placenta-derived exosomes were determined by quantifying the immunoreactive exosomal marker, CD63 and a placenta-specific marker (Placental Alkaline Phosphatase PLAP).
These nanoparticles are extraordinarily stable. There is no significant decline in their yield with the freeze/thawing processes or change in their EM morphology. NTA identified the presence of 50–150 nm spherical vesicles in maternal plasma as early as 6 weeks of pregnancy. The number of exosomes in maternal circulation increased significantly (ANOVA, p = 0.002) with the progression of pregnancy (from 6 to 12 weeks). The concentration of placenta-derived exosomes in maternal plasma (i.e. PLAP+) increased progressively with gestational age, from 6 weeks 70.6 ± 5.7 pg/ml to 12 weeks 117.5 ± 13.4 pg/ml. Regression analysis showed that weeks is a factor that explains for >70% of the observed variation in plasma exosomal PLAP concentration while the total exosome number only explains 20%.
During normal healthy pregnancy, the number of exosomes present in the maternal plasma increased significantly with gestational age across the first trimester of pregnancy. This study is a baseline that provides an ideal starting point for developing early detection method for women who subsequently develop pregnancy complications, clinically detected during the second trimester. Early detection of women at risk of pregnancy complications would provide an opportunity to develop and evaluate appropriate intervention strategies to limit acute adverse sequel.
Exosomes; Pregnancy; Placenta; Fetal-maternal exchange
Cells release a mixture of extracellular vesicles, amongst these exosomes, that differ in size, density and composition. The standard isolation method for exosomes is centrifugation of fluid samples, typically at 100,000×g or above. Knowledge of the effect of discrete ultracentrifugation speeds on the purification from different cell types, however, is limited.
We examined the effect of applying differential centrifugation g-forces ranging from 33,000×g to 200,000×g on exosome yield and purity, using 2 unrelated human cell lines, embryonic kidney HEK293 cells and bladder carcinoma FL3 cells. The fractions were evaluated by nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), total protein quantification and immunoblotting for CD81, TSG101, syntenin, VDAC1 and calreticulin.
NTA revealed the lowest background particle count in Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium media devoid of phenol red and cleared by 200,000×g overnight centrifugation. The centrifugation tube fill level impacted the sedimentation efficacy. Comparative analysis by NTA, protein quantification, and detection of exosomal and contamination markers identified differences in vesicle size, concentration and composition of the obtained fractions. In addition, HEK293 and FL3 vesicles displayed marked differences in sedimentation characteristics. Exosomes were pelleted already at 33,000×g, a g-force which also removed most contaminating microsomes. Optimal vesicle-to-protein yield was obtained at 67,000×g for HEK293 cells but 100,000×g for FL3 cells. Relative expression of exosomal markers (TSG101, CD81, syntenin) suggested presence of exosome subpopulations with variable sedimentation characteristics.
Specific g-force/k factor usage during differential centrifugation greatly influences the purity and yield of exosomes. The vesicle sedimentation profile differed between the 2 cell lines.
extracellular vesicles; exosomes; microvesicles; nanoparticle tracking analysis; differential centrifugation; k factor
Exosome secretion is a notable feature of malignancy owing to the roles of these nanoparticles in cancer growth, immune suppression, tumor angiogenesis and therapeutic resistance. Exosomes are 30–100 nm membrane vesicles released by many cells types during normal physiological processes. Tumors aberrantly secrete large quantities of exosomes that transport oncoproteins and immune suppressive molecules to support tumor growth and metastasis. The role of exosomes in intercellular signaling is exemplified by human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2) over-expressing breast cancer, where exosomes with the HER2 oncoprotein stimulate tumor growth and interfere with the activity of the therapeutic antibody Herceptin®. Since numerous observations from experimental model systems point toward an important clinical impact of exosomes in cancer, several pharmacological strategies have been proposed for targeting their malignant activities. We also propose a novel device strategy involving extracorporeal hemofiltration of exosomes from the entire circulatory system using an affinity plasmapheresis platform known as the Aethlon ADAPT™ (adaptive dialysis-like affinity platform technology) system, which would overcome the risks of toxicity and drug interactions posed by pharmacological approaches. This technology allows affinity agents, including exosome-binding lectins and antibodies, to be immobilized in the outer-capillary space of plasma filtration membranes that integrate into existing kidney dialysis systems. Device therapies that evolve from this platform allow rapid extracorporeal capture and selective retention of target particles < 200 nm from the entire circulatory system. This strategy is supported by clinical experience in hepatitis C virus-infected patients using an ADAPT™ device, the Hemopurifier®, to reduce the systemic load of virions having similar sizes and glycosylated surfaces as cancer exosomes. This review discusses the possible therapeutic approaches for targeting immune suppressive exosomes in cancer patients, and the anticipated significance of these strategies for reversing immune dysfunction and improving responses to standard of care treatments.
Exosomes; Cancer; Immune suppression; Metastasis; Affinity agents; Plasmapheresis cartridges; Dialysis; Lectin; Antibodies
Autocrine, paracrine and juxtacrine are recognized modes of action for mammalian EGFR ligands that include EGF, TGF-α (TGFα), amphiregulin (AREG), heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF), betacellulin, epiregulin and epigen. We identify a new mode of EGFR ligand signaling via exosomes. Human breast and colorectal cancer cells release exosomes containing full-length, signaling-competent EGFR ligands. Exosomes isolated from MDCK cells expressing individual full-length EGFR ligands displayed differential activities; AREG exosomes increased invasiveness of recipient breast cancer cells four-fold over TGFα or HB-EGF exosomes and five-fold over equivalent amounts of recombinant AREG. Exosomal AREG displayed significantly greater membrane stability than TGFα or HB-EGF. An average of 24 AREG molecules are packaged within an individual exosome, and AREG exosomes are rapidly internalized by recipient cells. Whether the composition and behavior of exosomes differ between non-transformed and transformed cells is unknown. We show that exosomes from DLD-1 colon cancer cells with a mutant KRAS allele exhibited both higher AREG levels and greater invasive potential than exosomes from isogenically matched, non-transformed cells in which mutant KRAS was eliminated by homologous recombination. We speculate that EGFR ligand signaling via exosomes may contribute to diverse cancer phenomena such as field effect and priming the metastatic niche.
Exosomes; EGF Receptor; amphiregulin; TGF-α; HB-EGF