Extracellular Vesicle Antibody Microarray for Multiplexed Inner and Outer Protein Analysis

Extracellular Vesicles

Abstract Proteins are found both outside and inside of extracellular vesicles (EVs) and govern the properties and functions of EVs, while also constituting a signature of the cell of origin and of biological function and disease. Outer proteins on EVs can be directly bound by antibodies to either enrich EVs, or probe the expression of a protein on EVs, including in a combinatorial manner. However, co-profiling of inner proteins remains challenging. Here, we present the high-throughput, multiplexed analysis of extracellular vesicle inner and outer proteins (EVPio). We describe the optimization of fixation and heat-induced protein epitope retrieval for EVs, along with oligo-barcoded antibodies and branched DNA signal amplification for sensitive, multiplexed and high-throughput assays. We captured 4 subpopulations of EVs from colorectal cancer cell lines HT29 and SW403 based on EpCAM, CD9, CD63 and CD81 expression, and quantified the co-expression of 8 outer (integrins and tetraspanins) and 4 inner (heat shock, endosomal and inner leaflet) proteins. The differences in co-expression patterns were consistent with the literature and known biological function. In conclusion, EVPio analysis can simultaneously detect multiple inner and outer proteins in EVs immobilized on a surface, opening the way to extensive combinatorial protein profiles for both discovery and clinical translation.

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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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