A Simple and Quick Method for Loading Proteins in Extracellular Vesicles

Extracellular Vesicles

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) mediate intercellular transport of biomolecular cargo in the body, making them promising delivery vehicles for bioactive compounds. Genetic engineering of producer cells has enabled encapsulation of therapeutic proteins in EVs. However, genetic engineering approaches can be expensive, time-consuming, and incompatible with certain EV sources, such as human plasma and bovine milk. The goal of this study was to develop a quick, versatile, and simple method for loading proteins in EVs post-isolation. Proteins, including CRISPR associated protein 9 (Cas9), were bound to cationic lipids that were further complexed with MDA-MB-231 cell-derived EVs through passive incubation. Size-exclusion chromatography was used to remove components that were not complexed with EVs. The ability of EVs to mediate intracellular delivery of proteins was compared to conventional methods, such as electroporation and commercial protein transfection reagents. The results indicate that EVs retain native features following protein-loading and obtain similar levels of intracellular protein delivery as conventional methods, but display less toxicity. This method opens up opportunities for rapid exploration of EVs for protein delivery.

View full article

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.

No items found.
No items found.
No items found.