Breast cancer extracellular vesicles-derived miR-1290 activates astrocytes in the brain metastatic microenvironment via the FOXA2→CNTF axis to promote progression of brain metastases

Extracellular Vesicles

Mechanisms underlying breast cancer brain metastasis (BCBM) are still unclear. In this study, we observed that extracellular vesicles (EVs) secreted from breast cancer cells with increased expression of tGLI1, a BCBM-promoting transcription factor, strongly activated astrocytes. EV-derived microRNA/miRNA microarray revealed tGLI1-positive breast cancer cells highly secreted miR-1290 and miR-1246 encapsulated in EVs. Genetic knockin/knockout studies established a direct link between tGLI1 and both miRNAs. Datamining and analysis of patient samples revealed that BCBM patients had more circulating EV-miRs-1290/1246 than those without metastasis. Ectopic expression of miR-1290 or miR-1246 strongly activated astrocytes whereas their inhibitors abrogated the effect. Conditioned media from miR-1290- or miR-1246-overexpressing astrocytes promoted mammospheres. Furthermore, miRs-1290/1246 suppressed expression of FOXA2 transcription repressor, leading to CNTF cytokine secretion and subsequent activation of astrocytes. Finally, we conducted a mouse study to demonstrate that astrocytes overexpressing miR-1290, but not miR-1246, enhanced intracranial colonization and growth of breast cancer cells. Collectively, our findings demonstrate, for the first time, that breast cancer EV-derived miR-1290 and miR-1246 activate astrocytes in the brain metastatic microenvironment and that EV-derived miR-1290 promotes progression of brain metastases through the novel EV-miR-1290→FOXA2→CNTF signaling axis.

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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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