Unique somatic variants in DNA from urine exosomes of individuals with bladder cancer

Extracellular Vesicles

Bladder cancer (BC), a heterogeneous disease characterized by high recurrence rates, is diagnosed and monitored by cystoscopy. Accurate clinical staging based on biopsy remains a challenge, and additional, objective diagnostic tools are needed urgently. We used exosomal DNA (exoDNA) as an analyte to examine cancer-associated mutations and compared the diagnostic utility of exoDNA from urine and serum of individuals with BC. In contrast to urine exosomes from healthy individuals, urine exosomes from individuals with BC contained significant amounts of DNA. Whole-exome sequencing of DNA from matched urine and serum exosomes, bladder tumors, and normal tissue (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) identified exonic and 3' UTR variants in frequently mutated genes in BC, detectable in urine exoDNA and matched tumor samples. Further analyses identified somatic variants in driver genes, unique to urine exoDNA, possibly because of the inherent intra-tumoral heterogeneity of BC, which is not fully represented in random small biopsies. Multiple variants were also found in untranslated portions of the genome, such as microRNA (miRNA)-binding regions of the KRAS gene. Gene network analyses revealed that exoDNA is associated with cancer, inflammation, and immunity in BC exosomes. Our findings show utility of exoDNA as an objective, non-invasive strategy to identify novel biomarkers and targets for BC.

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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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