Research Papers:

Barriers to horizontal cell transformation by extracellular vesicles containing oncogenic H-ras

Tae Hoon Lee, Shilpa Chennakrishnaiah, Brian Meehan, Laura Montermini, Delphine Garnier, Esterina D'Asti, Wenyang Hou, Nathalie Magnus, Tenzin Gayden, Nada Jabado, Kolja Eppert, Loydie Majewska and Janusz Rak _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:51991-52002. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10627

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Tae Hoon Lee1, Shilpa Chennakrishnaiah1, Brian Meehan1, Laura Montermini1, Delphine Garnier1, Esterina D’Asti1, Wenyang Hou1, Nathalie Magnus1, Tenzin Gayden1, Nada Jabado1, Kolja Eppert1, Loydie Majewska1, Janusz Rak1

1Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Glen Site, McGill University, QC, H4A 3J1 Canada

Correspondence to:

Janusz Rak, email: [email protected]

Keywords: exosomes, extracellular vesicles, horizontal transformation, oncogenes, ras

Received: March 09, 2016     Accepted: May 29, 2016     Published: July 16, 2016


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) enable the exit of regulatory, mutant and oncogenic macromolecules (proteins, RNA and DNA) from their parental tumor cells and uptake of this material by unrelated cellular populations. Among the resulting biological effects of interest is the notion that cancer-derived EVs may mediate horizontal transformation of normal cells through transfer of mutant genes, including mutant ras. Here, we report that H-ras-mediated transformation of intestinal epithelial cells (IEC-18) results in the emission of exosome-like EVs containing genomic DNA, HRAS oncoprotein and transcript. However, EV-mediated horizontal transformation of non-transformed cells (epithelial, astrocytic, fibroblastic and endothelial) is transient, limited or absent due to barrier mechanisms that curtail the uptake, retention and function of oncogenic H-ras in recipient cells. Thus, epithelial cells and astrocytes are resistant to EV uptake, unless they undergo malignant transformation. In contrast, primary and immortalized fibroblasts are susceptible to the EV uptake, retention of H-ras DNA and phenotypic transformation, but these effects are transient and fail to produce a permanent tumorigenic conversion of these cells in vitro and in vivo, even after several months of observation. Increased exposure to EVs isolated from H-ras-transformed cancer cells, but not to those from their indolent counterparts, triggers demise of recipient fibroblasts. Uptake of H-ras-containing EVs stimulates but fails to transform primary endothelial cells. Thus, we suggest that intercellular transfer of oncogenes exerts regulatory rather than transforming influence on recipient cells, while cancer cells may often act as preferential EV recipients.

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