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Oncogene. 2019 Jul;38(28):5566-5579. doi: 10.1038/s41388-019-0832-4. Epub 2019 May 30.

Cancer extracellular vesicles contribute to stromal heterogeneity by inducing chemokines in cancer-associated fibroblasts.

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Division of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, National Cancer Center Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan.
Department of Molecular Pathology, Hiroshima University Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, Hiroshima, Japan.
Molecular Oncology and Therapeutics, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan.
Division of Carcinogenesis and Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Center Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan.
Division of Biomarker Discovery, Exploratory Oncology and Clinical Trial Center, National Cancer Center, Chiba, Japan.
Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Division of Integrated Medical Science, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan.
Division of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, National Cancer Center Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan.
Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Institute of Medical Science, Tokyo Medical University, Tokyo, Japan.


Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), one of the major components of a tumour microenvironment, comprise heterogeneous populations involved in tumour progression. However, it remains obscure how CAF heterogeneity is governed by cancer cells. Here, we show that cancer extracellular vesicles (EVs) induce a series of chemokines in activated fibroblasts and contribute to the formation of the heterogeneity. In a xenograft model of diffuse-type gastric cancer, we showed two distinct fibroblast subpopulations with alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression or chemokine expression. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) profiling of the EVs and the transfection experiment suggested that several miRNAs played a role in the induction of chemokines such as CXCL1 and CXCL8 in fibroblasts, but not for the myofibroblastic differentiation. Clinically, aberrant activation of CXCL1 and CXCL8 in CAFs correlated with poorer survival in gastric cancer patients. Thus, this link between chemokine expression in CAFs and tumour progression may provide novel targets for anticancer therapy.


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