Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma-derived extracellular vesicles exert an oncogenic role by activating cancer-associated fibroblasts.

Li C, Sun C, Lohcharoenkal W, Ali MM, Xing P, Zheng W, Görgens A, Gustafsson MO, El Andaloussi S, Sonkoly E, Pivarcsi A

Cell Death Discov 9 (1) 260 [2023-07-26; online 2023-07-26]

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) is a fast-increasing cancer with metastatic potential. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small membrane-bound vesicles that play important roles in intercellular communication, particularly in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Here we report that cSCC cells secrete an increased number of EVs relative to normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs) and that interfering with the capacity of cSCC to secrete EVs inhibits tumor growth in vivo in a xenograft model of human cSCC. Transcriptome analysis of tumor xenografts by RNA-sequencing enabling the simultaneous quantification of both the human and the mouse transcripts revealed that impaired EV-production of cSCC cells prominently altered the phenotype of stromal cells, in particular genes related to extracellular matrix (ECM)-formation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In line with these results, co-culturing of human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs) with cSCC cells, but not with normal keratinocytes in vitro resulted in acquisition of cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) phenotype. Interestingly, EVs derived from metastatic cSCC cells, but not primary cSCCs or NHEKs, were efficient in converting HDFs to CAFs. Multiplex bead-based flow cytometry assay and mass-spectrometry (MS)-based proteomic analyses revealed the heterogenous cargo of cSCC-derived EVs and that especially EVs derived from metastatic cSCCs carry proteins associated with EV-biogenesis, EMT, and cell migration. Mechanistically, EVs from metastatic cSCC cells result in the activation of TGFβ signaling in HDFs. Altogether, our study suggests that cSCC-derived EVs mediate cancer-stroma communication, in particular the conversion of fibroblasts to CAFs, which eventually contribute to cSCC progression.

Bioinformatics Support for Computational Resources [Service]

NGI Short read [Service]

NGI Uppsala (SNP&SEQ Technology Platform) [Service]

National Genomics Infrastructure [Service]

PubMed 37495566

DOI 10.1038/s41420-023-01555-2

Crossref 10.1038/s41420-023-01555-2

pmc: PMC10372068
pii: 10.1038/s41420-023-01555-2

Publications 9.5.0