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Oncogenesis. 2017 Oct 9;6(10):e388. doi: 10.1038/oncsis.2017.82.

Protein and chemotherapy profiling of extracellular vesicles harvested from therapeutic induced senescent triple negative breast cancer cells.

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UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, School of Medicine, University College Dublin (UCD), Dublin, Ireland.
These authors contributed equally to this manuscript.
Systems Biology Ireland (SBI), University College Dublin (UCD), Dublin, Ireland.
UCD School of Medicine, College of Health and Agricultural Science, University College Dublin (UCD), Dublin, Ireland.
National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland.
Haematology Department, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
Oncology Department, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
Biology Department, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Dublin, Ireland.


Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive subtype with relatively poor clinical outcomes and limited treatment options. Chemotherapy, while killing cancer cells, can result in the generation of highly chemoresistant therapeutic induced senescent (TIS) cells that potentially form stem cell niches resulting in metastases. Intriguingly, senescent cells release significantly more extracellular vesicles (EVs) than non-senescent cells. Our aim was to profile EVs harvested from TIS TNBC cells compared with control cells to identify a potential mechanism by which TIS TNBC cells maintain survival in the face of chemotherapy. TIS was induced and confirmed in Cal51 TNBC cells using the chemotherapeutic paclitaxel (PTX) (Taxol). Mass spectrometry (MS) analysis of EVs harvested from TIS compared with control Cal51 cells was performed using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis and InnateDB programs. We demonstrate that TIS Cal51 cells treated with 75 nM PTX for 7 days became senescent (senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-Gal) positive, Ki67-negative, increased p21 and p16, G2/M cell cycle arrest) and released significantly more EVs (P=0.0002) and exosomes (P=0.0007) than non-senescent control cells. Moreover, TIS cells displayed an increased expression of the multidrug resistance protein 1/p-glycoprotein. MS analysis demonstrated that EVs derived from senescent Cal51 cells contained 142 proteins with a significant increased fold change compared with control EVs. Key proteins included ATPases, annexins, tubulins, integrins, Rabs and insoluble senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) factors. A fluorescent analogue of PTX (Flutax-2) allowed appreciation of the removal of chemotherapy in EVs from senescent cells. Treatment of TIS cells with the exosome biogenesis inhibitor GW4869 resulted in reduced SA-β-Gal staining (P=0.04). In summary, this study demonstrates that TIS cells release significantly more EVs compared with control cells, containing chemotherapy and key proteins involved in cell proliferation, ATP depletion, apoptosis and the SASP. These findings may partially explain why cancer senescent cells remain viable despite chemotherapeutic challenge.

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