In pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), signaling from stromal cells is implicated in metastatic progression. Tumor-stroma cross-talk is often mediated through extracellular vesicles (EVs). Researchers at the CNRS, France have previously reported that EVs derived from cancer-associated stromal fibroblasts (CAFs) that are abundant in annexin A6 (ANXA6+ EVs) support tumor cell aggressiveness in PDAC. Here, the researchers found that the cell surface glycoprotein and tetraspanin CD9 is a key component of CAF-derived ANXA6+ EVs for mediating this cross-talk. CD9 was abundant on the surface of ANXA6+ CAFs isolated from patient PDAC samples and from various mouse models of PDAC. CD9 colocalized with CAF markers in the tumor stroma, and CD9 abundance correlated with tumor stage. Blocking CD9 impaired the uptake of ANXA6+ EVs into cultured PDAC cells. Signaling pathway arrays and further analyses revealed that the uptake of CD9+ANXA6+ EVs induced mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway activity, cell migration, and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Blocking either CD9 or p38 MAPK signaling impaired CD9+ANXA6+ EV-induced cell migration and EMT in PDAC cells. Analysis of bioinformatic datasets indicated that CD9 abundance was an independent marker of poor prognosis in patients with PDAC. These findings suggest that CD9-mediated stromal cell signaling promotes PDAC progression.
Stroma-derived ANXA6+CD9+ EVs favor PDAC tumor cell migration,
through induction of the p38 MAPK pathway