Yin Y, Shelke GV, Lässer C, Brismar H, Lötvall J
Respir. Res. 21 (1) 101 [2020-05-01; online 2020-05-01]
In the airways, mast cells are present in close vicinity to epithelial cells, and they can interact with each other via multiple factors, including extracellular vesicles (EVs). Mast cell-derived EVs have a large repertoire of cargos, including proteins and RNA, as well as surface DNA. In this study, we hypothesized that these EVs can induce epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) in airway epithelial cells. In this in-vitro study we systematically determined the effects of mast cell-derived EVs on epithelial A549 cells. We determined the changes that are induced by EVs on A549 cells at both the RNA and protein levels. Moreover, we also analyzed the rapid changes in phosphorylation events in EV-recipient A549 cells using a phosphorylated protein microarray. Some of the phosphorylation-associated events associated with EMT were validated using immunoblotting. Morphological and transcript analysis of epithelial A549 cells indicated that an EMT-like phenotype was induced by the EVs. Transcript analysis indicated the upregulation of genes involved in EMT, including TWIST1, MMP9, TGFB1, and BMP-7. This was accompanied by downregulation of proteins such as E-cadherin and upregulation of Slug-Snail and matrix metalloproteinases. Additionally, our phosphorylated-protein microarray analysis revealed proteins associated with the EMT cascade that were upregulated after EV treatment. We also found that transforming growth factor beta-1, a well-known EMT inducer, is associated with EVs and mediates the EMT cascade induced in the A549 cells. Mast cell-derived EVs mediate the induction of EMT in epithelial cells, and our evidence suggests that this is triggered through the induction of protein phosphorylation cascades.