A multi‐omics approach identifies pancreatic cancer cell extracellular vesicles as mediators of the unfolded protein response in normal pancreatic epithelial cells

Extracellular Vesicles

Although cancer-derived extracellular vesicles (cEVs) are thought to play a pivotal role in promoting cancer progression events, their precise effect on neighbouring normal cells is unknown. In this study, we investigated the impact of pancreatic cancer ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) derived EVs on recipient non-tumourigenic pancreatic normal epithelial cells upon internalization. We demonstrate that cEVs are readily internalized and induce endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR) in treated normal pancreatic epithelial cells within 24 h. We further show that PDAC cEVs increase cell proliferation, migration, and invasion and that these changes are regulated at least in part, by the UPR mediator DDIT3. Subsequently, these cells release several inflammatory cytokines. Leveraging a layered multi-omics approach, we analysed EV cargo from a panel of six PDAC and two normal pancreas cell lines, using multiple EV isolation methods. We found that cEVs were enriched for an array of biomolecules which can induce or regulate ER stress and the UPR, including palmitic acid, sphingomyelins, metabolic regulators of tRNA charging and proteins which regulate trafficking and degradation. We further show that palmitic acid, at doses relevant to those found in cEVs, is sufficient to induce ER stress in normal pancreas cells. These results suggest that cEV cargo packaging may be designed to disseminate proliferative and invasive characteristics upon internalization by distant recipient normal cells, hitherto unreported. This study is among the first to highlight a major role for PDAC cEVs to induce stress in treated normal pancreas cells that may modulate a systemic response leading to altered phenotypes. These findings highlight the importance of EVs in mediating disease aetiology and open potential areas of investigation toward understanding the role of cEV lipids in promoting cell transformation in the surrounding microenvironment.

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Recent Publications

Cigarette smoke (CS) represents one of the most relevant environmental risk factors for several chronic pathologies. Tissue damage caused by CS exposure is mediated, at least in part, by oxidative stress induced by its toxic and pro-oxidant components. Evidence demonstrates that extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by various cell types exposed to CS extract (CSE) are characterized by altered biochemical cargo and gained pathological properties. In the present study, we evaluated the content of oxidized proteins and phospholipid fatty acid profiles of EVs released by human bronchial epithelial BEAS-2B cells treated with CSE. This specific molecular characterization has hitherto not been performed. After confirmation that CSE reduces viability of BEAS-2B cells and elevates intracellular ROS levels, in a dose-dependent manner, we demonstrated that 24 h exposure at 1% CSE, a concentration that only slight modifies cell viability but increases ROS levels, was able to increase carbonylated protein levels in cells and released EVs. The release of oxidatively modified proteins via EVs might represent a mechanism used by cells to remove toxic proteins in order to avoid their intracellular overloading. Moreover, 1% CSE induced only few changes in the fatty acid asset in BEAS-2B cell membrane phospholipids, whereas several rearrangements were observed in EVs released by CSE-treated cells. The impact of changes in acyl chain composition of CSE-EVs accounted for the increased saturation levels of phospholipids, a membrane parameter that might influence EV stability, uptake and, at least in part, EV-mediated biological effects. The present in vitro study adds new information concerning the biochemical composition of CSE-related EVs, useful to predict their biological effects on target cells. Furthermore, the information regarding the presence of oxidized proteins and the specific membrane features of CSE-related EVs can be useful to define the utilization of circulating EVs as marker for diagnosing of CS-induced lung damage and/or CS-related diseases.

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