Research Papers:

Exosomes secreted under hypoxia enhance stemness in Ewing’s sarcoma through miR-210 delivery

Matthew J. Kling, Nagendra K. Chaturvedi, Varun Kesherwani, Don W. Coulter, Timothy R. McGuire, J. Graham Sharp and Shantaram S. Joshi _

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Oncotarget. 2020; 11:3633-3645. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27702

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Matthew J. Kling1, Nagendra K. Chaturvedi2,5, Varun Kesherwani3, Don W. Coulter2,5, Timothy R. McGuire4, J. Graham Sharp1,5 and Shantaram S. Joshi1

1 Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA

2 Department of Pediatrics, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA

3 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Creighton University, Omaha, NE, USA

4 Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA

5 Child Health Research Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Omaha, NE, USA

Correspondence to:

Shantaram S. Joshi,email: [email protected]

Keywords: exosomes; hypoxia; Ewing’s sarcoma; stemness; miR-210

Received: May 27, 2020     Accepted: July 21, 2020     Published: October 06, 2020

Copyright: © 2020 Kling et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Intercellular communication between tumor cells within the hypoxic microenvironment promote aggressiveness and poor patient prognoses for reasons that remain unclear. Here we show that hypoxic Ewing’s sarcoma (EWS) cells release exosomes that promote sphere formation, a stem-like phenotype, in EWS cells by enhancing survival. Analysis of the hypoxic exosomal miRNA cargo identified a HIF-1α regulated miRNA, miR-210, as a potential mediator of sphere formation in cells exposed to hypoxic exosomes. Knockdown of HIF-1α in hypoxic EWS cells led to decreased exosomal miR-210 levels and reduced the capacity of hypoxic exosomes to form spheres. Inhibition of miR-210 in hypoxic spheres attenuated sphere formation and overexpression of miR-210 in normoxic spheres significantly enhanced the number of EWS spheres. Our results indicate that hypoxic exosomal miR-210 targets the proapoptotic protein CASP8AP2 in recipient cells. Moreover, the suppression of CASP8AP2 led to a reduction in apoptotic cells and increased sphere formation. Together, the findings in this study suggest that hypoxic exosomes promote stemness in EWS cells by delivering enriched miR-210 that is capable of down-regulating apoptotic pathways, resulting in the survival of cells with increased sphere formation. Future studies will further investigate the effects of EWS derived exosomal miRNAs on target genes and the role these interactions play in driving aggressiveness in hypoxic EWS tumors.

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