Research Papers:

The tetraspanins CD151 and Tspan8 are essential exosome components for the crosstalk between cancer initiating cells and their surrounding

Shijing Yue, Wei Mu, Ulrike Erb and Margot Zöller _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:2366-2384. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2958

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Shijing Yue1,*, Wei Mu1,*, Ulrike Erb1 and Margot Zöller1

1 Department of Tumor Cell Biology, University Hospital of Surgery, Heidelberg, Germany

* These authors contributed equally to this work


Margot Zöller, email:

Keywords: Tetraspanins, exosomes, metastasis, matrix degradation, EMT

Received: October 17, 2014 Accepted: December 09, 2014 Published: December 10, 2014


Tspan8 and CD151 are metastasis-promoting tetraspanins and a knockdown (kd) of Tspan8 or CD151 and most pronounced of both tetraspanins affects the metastatic potential of the rat pancreatic adenocarcinoma line ASML. Approaching to elaborate the underlying mechanism, we compared ASMLwt, -CD151kd and/or Tspan8kd clones. We focused on tumor exosomes, as exosomes play a major role in tumor progression and tetraspanins are suggested to be engaged in exosome targeting.

ASML-CD151/Tspan8kd cells poorly metastasize, but regain metastatic capacity, when rats are pretreated with ASMLwt, but not ASML-CD151kd and/or -Tspan8kd exosomes. Both exosomal CD151 and Tspan8 contribute to host matrix remodelling due to exosomal tetraspanin-integrin and tetraspanin-protease associations. ASMLwt exosomes also support stroma cell activation with upregulation of cytokines, cytokine receptors and proteases and promote inflammatory cytokine expression in hematopoietic cells. Finally, CD151-/Tspan8-competent exosomes support EMT gene expression in poorly-metastatic ASML-CD151/Tspan8kd cells. These effects are not seen or are weakened using ASML-CD151kd or -Tspan8kd exosomes, which is at least partly due to reduced binding/uptake of CD151- and/or Tspan8-deficient exosomes.

Thus, CD151- and Tspan8-competent tumor exosomes support matrix degradation, reprogram stroma and hematopoietic cells and drive non-metastatic ASML-CD151/Tspan8kd cells towards a motile phenotype.

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