Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

Mechanisms of nuclear content loading to exosomes

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Science Advances  20 Nov 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 11, eaax8849
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax8849


Exosome cargoes are highly varied and include proteins, small RNAs, and genomic DNA (gDNA). The presence of gDNA suggests that different intracellular compartments contribute to exosome loading, resulting in distinct exosome subpopulations. However, the loading of gDNA and other nuclear contents into exosomes (nExo) remains poorly understood. Here, we identify the relationship between cancer cell micronuclei (MN), which are markers of genomic instability, and nExo formation. Imaging flow cytometry analyses reveal that 10% of exosomes derived from cancer cells and <1% of exosomes derived from blood and ascites from patients with ovarian cancer carry nuclear contents. Treatment with genotoxic drugs resulted in increased MN and nExos both in vitro and in vivo. We observed that multivesicular body precursors and exosomal markers, such as the tetraspanins, directly interact with MN. Collectively, this work provides new insights related to nExos, which have implications for cancer biomarker development.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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