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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2019 Mar;60(3):279-288. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2018-0062OC.

Fibronectin on the Surface of Extracellular Vesicles Mediates Fibroblast Invasion.

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1 Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine.
2 Department of Medicine.
3 Department of Pathology, and.
4 Department of Surgery, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are endosome and plasma membrane-derived nano-sized vesicles that participate in intercellular signaling. Although EV cargo may signal via multiple mechanisms, how signaling components on the surface of EVs mediate cellular signaling is less well understood. In this study, we show that fibroblast-derived EVs carry fibronectin on the vesicular surface, as evidenced by mass spectrometry-based proteomics (Sequential Window Acquisition of all Theoretical Mass Spectra) and flow-cytometric analyses. Fibroblasts undergoing replicative senescence or transforming growth factor β1-induced senescence and fibroblasts isolated from human subjects with an age-related lung disorder, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, secreted higher numbers of EVs than their respective controls. Fibroblast-derived EVs induced an invasive phenotype in recipient fibroblasts. This invasive fibroblast phenotype was dependent on EV surface localization of fibronectin, interaction with the fibronectin receptor α5β1 integrin, and activation of invasion-associated signaling pathways involving focal adhesion kinase and Src family kinases. EVs in the cellular supernatant, unbound to the extracellular matrix, were capable of mediating invasion signaling on recipient fibroblasts, supporting a direct interaction of EV surface fibronectin with the plasma membrane of recipient cells. Together, these studies uncover a novel mechanism of EV signaling of fibroblast invasion that may be relevant in the pathogenesis of fibrotic diseases and cancer.


extracellular vesicles; fibroblast; fibronectin; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; invasion

[Available on 2020-03-01]

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