Specificities of exosome versus small ectosome secretion revealed by live intracellular tracking of CD63 and CD9

Extracellular Vesicles

Despite their roles in intercellular communications, the different populations of extracellular vesicles (EVs) and their secretion mechanisms are not fully characterized: how and to what extent EVs form as intraluminal vesicles of endocytic compartments (exosomes), or at the plasma membrane (PM) (ectosomes) remains unclear. Here we follow intracellular trafficking of the EV markers CD9 and CD63 from the endoplasmic reticulum to their residency compartment, respectively PM and late endosomes. We observe transient co-localization at both places, before they finally segregate. CD9 and a mutant CD63 stabilized at the PM are more abundantly released in EVs than CD63. Thus, in HeLa cells, ectosomes are more prominent than exosomes. By comparative proteomic analysis and differential response to neutralization of endosomal pH, we identify a few surface proteins likely specific of either exosomes (LAMP1) or ectosomes (BSG, SLC3A2). Our work sets the path for molecular and functional discrimination of exosomes and small ectosomes in any cell type.

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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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