Exosomal miRNAs from highly metastatic cells can induce metastasis in non-metastatic cells

Breast cancer is a high prevalence cancer among women worldwide. 15-20% of breast cancer cases are triple-negative with a poor prognosis. miRNA aberrant expression is one of the reasons of cancer development and metastasis. Exosomes are vesicles that carry cargos such as miRNAs to other cells. Therefore, researchers at the Zanjan University of Medical Sciences hypothesized that miRNAs transported by exosomes to other cells can induce malignant transformation.

They extracted exosomes from highly metastatic MDA-MB-231 cells and characterized them using Dynamic light scattering, scanning and transmitting electron microscopy as well as western blot. Then, they treated non-metastatic MCF-7 cells with the exosomes. Afterwards, the researchers evaluated exosome uptake by MCF-7 cells using PHK67 staining. Finally, they used soft agar colony formation, migration, and invasion assays to explore any increase in/induction of metastatic behavior of exosome-treated MCF-7 cells.

The results indicated that the particles extracted from MDA-MB-231 cells’ supernatant were actually exosomes. PKH67 staining and confocal microscopy showed that the exosomes were actively taken up by MCF-7 cells. Treatment of MCF-7 cells with the exosomes resulted in increased ability of MCF-7 cells to grow independent of anchorage. In addition, migration and invasion capacity of exosome-treated MCF-7 cells increased in a dose-dependent manner.

Kia V, Mortazavi Y, Paryan M, Biglari A, Mohammadi-Yeganeh S. (2019) Exosomal miRNAs from highly metastatic cells can induce metastasis in non-metastatic cells. Life Sci 220:162-168. [abstract]

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