Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

Excessive exosome release is the pathogenic pathway linking a lysosomal deficiency to generalized fibrosis

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Science Advances  17 Jul 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 7, eaav3270
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav3270


Lysosomal exocytosis is a ubiquitous process negatively regulated by neuraminidase 1 (NEU1), a sialidase mutated in the glycoprotein storage disease sialidosis. In Neu1−/− mice, excessive lysosomal exocytosis is at the basis of disease pathogenesis. Yet, the tissue-specific molecular consequences of this deregulated pathway are still unfolding. We now report that in muscle connective tissue, Neu1−/− fibroblasts have features of myofibroblasts and are proliferative, migratory, and exocytose large amounts of exosomes. These nanocarriers loaded with activated transforming growth factor–β and wingless-related integration site (WNT)/β-catenin signaling molecules propagate fibrotic signals to other cells, maintaining the tissue in a prolonged transitional status. Myofibroblast-derived exosomes fed to normal fibroblasts convert them into myofibroblasts, changing the recipient cells’ proliferative and migratory properties. These findings reveal an unexpected exosome-mediated signaling pathway downstream of NEU1 deficiency that propagates a fibrotic disease and could be implicated in idiopathic forms of fibrosis in humans.

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