Inhibition of Oncogenic Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Kinase Triggers Release of Exosome-like Extracellular Vesicles and Impacts Their Phosphoprotein and DNA Content
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Cancer cells emit extracellular vesicles (EVs) containing unique molecular signatures. Here, we report that the oncogenic EGF receptor (EGFR) and its inhibitors reprogram phosphoproteomes and cargo of tumor cell-derived EVs. Thus, phosphorylated EGFR (P-EGFR) and several other receptor tyrosine kinases can be detected in EVs purified from plasma of tumor-bearing mice and from conditioned media of cultured cancer cells. Treatment of EGFR-driven tumor cells with second generation EGFR kinase inhibitors (EKIs), including CI-1033 and PF-00299804 but not with anti-EGFR antibody (Cetuximab) or etoposide, triggers a burst in emission of exosome-like EVs containing EGFR, P-EGFR, and genomic DNA (exo-gDNA). The EV release can be attenuated by treatment with inhibitors of exosome biogenesis (GW4869) and caspase pathways (ZVAD). The content of P-EGFR isoforms (Tyr-845, Tyr-1068, and Tyr-1173), ERK, and AKT varies between cells and their corresponding EVs and as a function of EKI treatment. Immunocapture experiments reveal the presence of EGFR and exo-gDNA within the same EV population following EKI treatment. These findings suggest that targeted agents may induce cancer cells to change the EV emission profiles reflective of drug-related therapeutic stress. We suggest that EV-based assays may serve as companion diagnostics for targeted anticancer agents.
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