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1.  Ovarian cancer cell invasiveness is associated with discordant exosomal sequestration of Let-7 miRNA and miR-200 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-12-4
PMCID: PMC3896684  PMID: 24393345
Ovarian cancer; Exosomes; microRNA; Biomarkers; Invasion
2.  Exosomal Proteome Profiling: A Potential Multi-Marker Cellular Phenotyping Tool to Characterize Hypoxia-Induced Radiation Resistance in Breast Cancer 
Proteomes  2013;1(2):87-108.
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.
doi:10.3390/proteomes1020087
PMCID: PMC4029595  PMID: 24860738
hypoxia; radiation; breast cancer; tumor microenvironment; exosomes; proteomics
3.  Release of Luminal Exosomes Contributes to TLR4-Mediated Epithelial Antimicrobial Defense 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(4):e1003261.
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.
Author Summary
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003261
PMCID: PMC3617097  PMID: 23592986
4.  Interactions between Exosomes from Breast Cancer Cells and Primary Mammary Epithelial Cells Leads to Generation of Reactive Oxygen Species Which Induce DNA Damage Response, Stabilization of p53 and Autophagy in Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97580.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097580
PMCID: PMC4022578  PMID: 24831807
5.  Exosome-mediated transfer of miR-10b promotes cell invasion in breast cancer 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13(1):256.
Introduction
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-256
PMCID: PMC4258287  PMID: 25428807
Exosome; microRNA; miR-10b; Invasion
6.  Exosomes Communicate Protective Messages during Oxidative Stress; Possible Role of Exosomal Shuttle RNA 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15353.
Background
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.
Methodology/Principal Findings
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.
Conclusions/Significance
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015353
PMCID: PMC3003701  PMID: 21179422
7.  Isolation and Characterization of RNA-Containing Exosomes 
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.
doi:10.3791/3037
PMCID: PMC3369768  PMID: 22257828
Molecular Biology;  Issue 59;  Exosomes;  microvesicles;  mRNA;  miRNA;  RNA isolation;  flow cytometry;  electron microscopy;  Western blot;  Bioanalyzer
8.  Exosomal HIF1α supports invasive potential of nasopharyngeal carcinoma-associated LMP1-positive exosomes 
Oncogene  2014;33(37):4613-4622.
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.
doi:10.1038/onc.2014.66
PMCID: PMC4162459  PMID: 24662828
9.  Neutral Sphingomyelinase 2 (nSMase2)-dependent Exosomal Transfer of Angiogenic MicroRNAs Regulate Cancer Cell Metastasis* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(15):10849-10859.
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.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M112.446831
PMCID: PMC3624465  PMID: 23439645
Angiogenesis; Cell Biology; Cell-cell Interaction; Exosomes; Metastasis; MicroRNA; Tumor Microenvironment; Extracellular Vesicles; Cell-cell Communication; miR-210
10.  Exosomes Derived from Mesenchymal Stem Cells Suppress Angiogenesis by Down-Regulating VEGF Expression in Breast Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84256.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084256
PMCID: PMC3877259  PMID: 24391924
11.  Hypoxia-Induced Changes in the Bioactivity of Cytotrophoblast-Derived Exosomes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79636.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079636
PMCID: PMC3823597  PMID: 24244532
12.  Tumour-derived exosomes and their role in cancer-associated T-cell signalling defects 
British Journal of Cancer  2005;92(2):305-311.
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.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6602316
PMCID: PMC2361848  PMID: 15655551
exosomes; activation signaling; membrane vesicles; T lymphocytes; ovarian cancer
13.  Characterization of RNA in exosomes secreted by human breast cancer cell lines using next-generation sequencing 
PeerJ  2013;1:e201.
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.
doi:10.7717/peerj.201
PMCID: PMC3828613  PMID: 24255815
Exosomes; Microvesicles; Next generation sequencing; Breast cancer; Biomarkers
14.  Let-7 MicroRNA Family Is Selectively Secreted into the Extracellular Environment via Exosomes in a Metastatic Gastric Cancer Cell Line 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13247.
Background
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.
Methodology/Principal Findings
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.
Conclusions/Significance
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013247
PMCID: PMC2951912  PMID: 20949044
15.  Placenta-derived exosomes continuously increase in maternal circulation over the first trimester of pregnancy 
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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%.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-12-204
PMCID: PMC4283151  PMID: 25104112
Exosomes; Pregnancy; Placenta; Fetal-maternal exchange
16.  Exosomes Mediate the Cytoprotective Action of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells on Hypoxia-Induced Pulmonary Hypertension 
Circulation  2012;126(22):2601-2611.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.114173
PMCID: PMC3979353  PMID: 23114789
hypertension; pulmonary; inflammation; hypoxia; signal transduction
17.  Comparative analysis of discrete exosome fractions obtained by differential centrifugation 
Journal of Extracellular Vesicles  2014;3:10.3402/jev.v3.25011.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.3402/jev.v3.25011
PMCID: PMC4224706  PMID: 25396408
extracellular vesicles; exosomes; microvesicles; nanoparticle tracking analysis; differential centrifugation; k factor
18.  Exosome removal as a therapeutic adjuvant in cancer 
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.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-10-134
PMCID: PMC3441244  PMID: 22738135
Exosomes; Cancer; Immune suppression; Metastasis; Affinity agents; Plasmapheresis cartridges; Dialysis; Lectin; Antibodies
19.  Amphiregulin exosomes increase cancer cell invasion 
Current biology : CB  2011;21(9):779-786.
SUMMARY
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.
doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.03.043
PMCID: PMC3417320  PMID: 21514161
Exosomes; EGF Receptor; amphiregulin; TGF-α; HB-EGF
20.  Cellular stress conditions are reflected in the protein and RNA content of endothelial cell-derived exosomes 
Journal of Extracellular Vesicles  2012;1:10.3402/jev.v1i0.18396.
Background
The healthy vascular endothelium, which forms the barrier between blood and the surrounding tissues, is known to efficiently respond to stress signals like hypoxia and inflammation by adaptation of cellular physiology and the secretion of (soluble) growth factors and cytokines. Exosomes are potent mediators of intercellular communication. Their content consists of RNA and proteins from the cell of origin, and thus depends on the condition of these cells at the time of exosome biogenesis. It has been suggested that exosomes protect their target cells from cellular stress through the transfer of RNA and proteins. We hypothesized that endothelium-derived exosomes are involved in the endothelial response to cellular stress, and that exosome RNA and protein content reflect the effects of cellular stress induced by hypoxia, inflammation or hyperglycemia.
Methods
We exposed cultured endothelial cells to different types of cellular stress (hypoxia, TNF-α-induced activation, high glucose and mannose concentrations) and compared mRNA and protein content of exosomes produced by these cells by microarray analysis and a quantitative proteomics approach.
Results
We identified 1,354 proteins and 1,992 mRNAs in endothelial cell-derived exosomes. Several proteins and mRNAs showed altered abundances after exposure of their producing cells to cellular stress, which were confirmed by immunoblot or qPCR analysis.
Conclusion
Our data show that hypoxia and endothelial activation are reflected in RNA and protein exosome composition, and that exposure to high sugar concentrations alters exosome protein composition only to a minor extend, and does not affect exosome RNA composition.
doi:10.3402/jev.v1i0.18396
PMCID: PMC3760650  PMID: 24009886
extracellular vesicles; exosomes; RNA; proteomics; hypoxia; tumor necrosis factor alpha
21.  Chronic myeloid leukemia-derived exosomes promote tumor growth through an autocrine mechanism 
Background
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a clonal hematopoietic stem cell disorder in which leukemic cells display a reciprocal t(9:22) chromosomal translocation that results in the formation of the chimeric BCR-ABL oncoprotein, with a constitutive tyrosine kinase activity. Consequently, BCR-ABL causes increased proliferation, inhibition of apoptosis, and altered adhesion of leukemic blasts to the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment. It has been well documented that cancer cells can generate their own signals in order to sustain their growth and survival, and recent studies have revealed the role of cancer-derived exosomes in activating signal transduction pathways involved in cancer cell proliferation. Exosomes are small vesicles of 40–100 nm in diameter that are initially formed within the endosomal compartment, and are secreted when a multivesicular body (MVB) fuses with the plasma membrane. These vesicles are released by many cell types including cancer cells, and are considered messengers in intercellular communication. We have previously shown that CML cells released exosomes able to affect the tumor microenvironment.
Results
CML cells, exposed up to one week, to exosomes showed a dose-dependent increased proliferation compared with controls. Moreover, exosome treatment promotes the formation of LAMA84 colonies in methylcellulose. In a CML xenograft model, treatment of mice with exosomes caused a greater increase in tumor size compared with controls (PBS-treated mice). Real time PCR and Western Blot analysis showed, in both in vitro and in vivo samples, an increase in mRNA and protein levels of anti-apoptotic molecules, such as BCL-w, BCL-xl, and survivin, and a reduction of the pro-apoptotic molecules BAD, BAX and PUMA. We also found that TGF- β1 was enriched in CML-exosomes. Our investigations showed that exosome-stimulated proliferation of leukemia cells, as well as the exosome-mediated activation of an anti-apoptotic phenotype, can be inhibited by blocking TGF-β1 signaling.
Conclusions
CML-derived exosomes promote, through an autocrine mechanism, the proliferation and survival of tumor cells, both in vitro and in vivo, by activating anti-apoptotic pathways. We propose that this mechanism is activated by a ligand-receptor interaction between TGF-β1, found in CML-derived exosomes, and the TGF- β1 receptor in CML cells.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12964-015-0086-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12964-015-0086-x
PMCID: PMC4320527  PMID: 25644060
Exosomes; Chronic myeloid leukemia; Autocrine mechanisms; Anti-apoptotic pathways; TGF-β1
22.  Exosomal Signaling during Hypoxia Mediates Microvascular Endothelial Cell Migration and Vasculogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68451.
Vasculogenesis and angiogenesis are critical processes in fetal circulation and placental vasculature development. Placental mesenchymal stem cells (pMSC) are known to release paracrine factors (some of which are contained within exosomes) that promote angiogenesis and cell migration. The aims of this study were: to determine the effects of oxygen tension on the release of exosomes from pMSC; and to establish the effects of pMSC-derived exosomes on the migration and angiogenic tube formation of placental microvascular endothelial cells (hPMEC). pMSC were isolated from placental villi (8–12 weeks of gestation, n = 6) and cultured under an atmosphere of 1%, 3% or 8% O2. Cell-conditioned media were collected and exosomes (exo-pMSC) isolated by differential and buoyant density centrifugation. The dose effect (5–20 µg exosomal protein/ml) of pMSC-derived exosomes on hPMEC migration and tube formation were established using a real-time, live-cell imaging system (Incucyte™). The exosome pellet was resuspended in PBS and protein content was established by mass spectrometry (MS). Protein function and canonical pathways were identified using the PANTHER program and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis, respectively. Exo-pMSC were identified, by electron microscopy, as spherical vesicles, with a typical cup-shape and diameters around of 100 nm and positive for exosome markers: CD63, CD9 and CD81. Under hypoxic conditions (1% and 3% O2) exo-pMSC released increased by 3.3 and 6.7 folds, respectively, when compared to the controls (8% O2; p<0.01). Exo-pMSC increased hPMEC migration by 1.6 fold compared to the control (p<0.05) and increased hPMEC tube formation by 7.2 fold (p<0.05). MS analysis identified 390 different proteins involved in cytoskeleton organization, development, immunomodulatory, and cell-to-cell communication. The data obtained support the hypothesis that pMSC-derived exosomes may contribute to placental vascular adaptation to low oxygen tension under both physiological and pathological conditions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068451
PMCID: PMC3704530  PMID: 23861904
23.  MicroRNA response to hypoxic stress in soft tissue sarcoma cells: microRNA mediated regulation of HIF3α 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:429.
Background
Hypoxia is often encountered in solid tumors and known to contribute to aggressive tumor behavior, radiation- and chemotherapy resistance resulting in a poor prognosis for the cancer patient. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a role in the regulation of the tumor cell response to hypoxia, however, not much is known about the involvement of miRNAs in hypoxic signalling pathways in soft tissue sarcomas (STS).
Method
A panel of twelve STS cell lines was exposed to atmospheric oxygen concentrations (normoxia) or 1% oxygen (hypoxia) for up to 48 h. Hypoxic conditions were verified and miRNA expression profiles were assessed by LNA™ oligonucleotide microarrays and RT-PCR after 24 h. The expression of target genes regulated by hypoxia responsive miRNAs is examined by end-point PCR and validated by luciferase reporter constructs.
Results
Exposure of STS cell lines to hypoxic conditions gave rise to upregulation of Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF) 1α protein levels and increased mRNA expression of HIF1 target genes CA9 and VEGFA. Deregulation of miRNA expression after 24 h of hypoxia was observed. The most differentially expressed miRNAs (p < 0.001) in response to hypoxia were miR-185-3p, miR-485-5p, miR-216a-5p (upregulated) and miR-625-5p (downregulated). The well-known hypoxia responsive miR-210-3p could not be reliably detected by the microarray platform most likely for technical reasons, however, its upregulation upon hypoxic stress was apparent by qPCR. Target prediction algorithms identified 11 potential binding sites for miR-485-5p and a single putative miR-210-3p binding site in the 3’UTR of HIF3α, the least studied member of the HIF family. We showed that HIF3α transcripts, expressing a 3’UTR containing the miR-485-5p and miR-210-3p target sites, are expressed in all sarcoma cell lines and upregulated upon hypoxia. Additionally, luciferase reporter constructs containing the 3’UTR of HIF3α were used to demonstrate regulation of HIF3α by miR-210-3p and miR-485-5p.
Conclusion
Here we provide evidence for the miRNA mediated regulation of HIF3α by hypoxia responsive miRNAs in STS, which may help to tightly regulate and fine-tune the hypoxic response. This provides a better insight into the mechanisms underlying the hypoxic response in STS and may ultimately yield information on novel prognostic and predictive markers or targets for treatment.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-429
PMCID: PMC4065608  PMID: 24927770
miRNA; Hypoxia; HIF3α; Soft tissue sarcomas; miR-210-3p; miR-485-5p
24.  Induction of plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1) by hypoxia and irradiation in human head and neck carcinoma cell lines 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:143.
Background
Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) often contain highly radioresistant hypoxic regions, nonetheless, radiotherapy is a common treatment modality for these tumours. Reoxygenation during fractionated radiotherapy is desired to render these hypoxic tumour regions more radiosensitive. Hypoxia additionally leads to up-regulation of PAI-1, a protein involved in tumour progression and an established prognostic marker for poor outcome. However, the impact of reoxygenation and radiation on PAI-1 levels is not yet clear. Therefore, we investigated the kinetics of PAI-1 expression and secretion after hypoxia and reoxygenation, and determined the influence of ionizing radiation on PAI-1 levels in the two human SCCHN cell lines, BHY and FaDu.
Methods
HIF-1α immunoblot was used to visualize the degree of hypoxia in the two cell lines. Cellular PAI-1 expression was investigated by immunofluorescence microscopy. ELISA was used to quantify relative changes in PAI-1 expression (cell lysates) and secretion (cell culture supernatants) in response to various lengths (2 – 4 h) of hypoxic exposure (< 0.66 % O2), reoxygenation (24 h, 20 % O2), and radiation (0, 2, 5 and 10 Gy).
Results
HIF-1α expression was induced between 2 and 24 h of hypoxic exposure. Intracellular PAI-1 expression was significantly increased in BHY and FaDu cells as early as 4 h after hypoxic exposure. A significant induction in secreted PAI-1 was seen after 12 to 24 h (BHY) and 8 to 24 h (FaDu) hypoxia, as compared to the normoxic control. A 24 h reoxygenation period caused significantly less PAI-1 secretion than a 24 h hypoxia period in FaDu cells. Irradiation led to an up-regulation of PAI-1 expression and secretion in both, BHY and FaDu cells.
Conclusion
Our data suggest that both, short-term (~4 – 8 h) and long-term (~20 – 24 h) hypoxic exposure could increase PAI-1 levels in SCCHN in vivo. Importantly, radiation itself could lead to PAI-1 up-regulation in head and neck tumours, whereas reoxygenation of hypoxic tumour cells during fractionated radiotherapy could counteract the increased PAI-1 levels.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-7-143
PMCID: PMC1973081  PMID: 17663760
25.  Exosomes 
Exosomes are specialized membranous nano-sized vesicles derived from endocytic compartments that are released by many cell types. Microvesicles are distinctive from exosomes in that they are produced by shedding of the plasmamembrane and usually larger in size (>1 µm). Exosome biogenesis involves the tightly controlled process of inward budding from the limiting membrane of multivesicular bodies (MVBs). This results in numerous intraluminal vesicles in the lumen of MVBs that contain distinct protein repertoires. It has been suggested that microvesicles shed by certain tumor cells hold functional messenger RNA (mRNA) that may promote tumor progression. We discovered that purified exosomes contain functional microRNAs (miRNAs) and small RNA, but detected little mRNA. Although a clear and decisive distinction between microvesicles and exosomes cannot be made and different subsets of exosomes exist, we speculate that exosomes are specialized in carrying small RNA including the class 22–25 nucleotide regulatory miRNAs. To demonstrate this we developed a co-culture system and found that exosomes are continuously secreted and transferred from Epstein Barr virus (EBV)-infected cells to uninfected neighboring cells. Throughout exosome transfer, the exogenous EBV-encoded miRNAs were delivered to subcellular sites of miRNA-mediated gene repression. Additionally, we found evidence that mature miRNAs are transferred between circulating cells in humans, since we detected EBV-miRNAs in non-infected cells in the peripheral blood of patients that include monocytes and T cells. In this addendum we discuss these findings in the context of recently published papers that advanced our current knowledge of exosome physiology, (mi)RNA function and intercellular RNA transfer. Based on this information we propose that an intercellular (miRNA-based) mode of signal transmission may be well suited in controlling space-confined processes such as the initiation of immune responses in the secondary (peripheral) lymphoid tissues or in a tumor microenvironment. Deciphering the molecular mechanism(s) that control small RNA loading into exosomes and transfer to recipient cells in vitro will provide new evidence for the physiological relevance of vesicle-mediated intercellular communication in vivo.
doi:10.4161/cib.3.5.12339
PMCID: PMC2974077  PMID: 21057637
exosomes; microvesicles; small RNA; virus; intercellular communication

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