Secretion of mutant DNA and mRNA by the exosomes of breast cancer cells

Exosomes are the small vesicles that are secreted by different types of normal and tumour cells and can incorporate and transfer their cargo to the recipient cells. Researchers from the Blokhin National Medical Research Center set out to study the tumour exosomes’ ability to accumulate the parent mutant DNA or RNA transcripts with their following transfer to the surrounding cells. The experiments were performed on the MCF7 breast cancer cells that are characterized by the unique coding mutation in the PIK3CA gene. Using two independent methods, Sanger sequencing and allele-specific real-time PCR, the researchers revealed the presence of the fragments of the mutant DNA and RNA transcripts in the exosomes secreted by the MCF7 cells. Furthermore, they demonstrated the MCF7 exosomes’ ability to incorporate into the heterologous MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells supporting the possible transferring of the exosomal cargo into the recipient cells. Sanger sequencing of the DNA from MDA-MB-231 cells (originally bearing a wild type of PIK3CA) treated with MCF7 exosomes showed no detectable amount of mutant DNA or RNA; however, using allele-specific real-time PCR, we revealed a minor signal from amplification of a mutant allele, showing a slight increase of mutant DNA in the exosome-treated MDA-MB-231 cells. These results demonstrate the exosome-mediated secretion of the fragments of mutant DNA and mRNA by the cancer cells and the exosomes’ ability to transfer their cargo into the heterologous cells.

Andreeva OE, Shchegolev YY, Scherbakov AM et al. (2021). Secretion of Mutant DNA and mRNA by the Exosomes of Breast Cancer Cells. Molecules 26(9), 2499. [article]

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