Extracellular vesicle (EV) mediated communication has recently been proposed as one of the pivotal routes in the development of cancer metastasis. EVs are nano-sized vesicles swapped between cells, carrying a biologically active content that can promote tumor-induced immune suppression, metastasis and angiogenesis. Thus, EVs constitute a potential target in cancer therapy. However, their role in triggering the premetastatic niche and in tumor spreading is still unclear.
Researchers at the Elettra-Sincrotrone Trieste focused on the EV ability to modulate the biomechanical properties of target cells, known to play a crucial role in metastatic spreading. To this purpose, they isolated and thoroughly characterized triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)-derived small EVs. We then evaluated variations in the mechanical properties (cell stiffness, cytoskeleton/nuclear/morphology and Yap activity rearrangements) of non-metastatic breast cancer MCF7 cells upon EV treatment. Their results suggest that TNBC-derived small EVs are able to directly modify MCF7 cells by inducing a decrease in cell stiffness, rearrangements in cytoskeleton, focal adhesions and nuclear/cellular morphology, and an increase in Yap downstream gene expression. Testing the biomechanical response of cells after EV addition might represent a new functional assay in metastatic cancer framework that can be exploited for future application both in diagnosis and in therapy.