1. Department of Pathophysiology, Medical College, Nanchang University, 461 Bayi Road, Nanchang 330006, China
2. Queen Mary college, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330006, China
3. Second Clinical Medical College, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330006, China
4. First Clinical Medical College, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330006, China
5. Key laboratory of functional and clinical translational medicine, Xiamen Medical College, Fujian province university, Xiamen 361023, China
†These authors have contributed equally to this work and share first authorship.
Rationale: Breast cancer (BC), as one of the most frequently diagnosed cancer, has a poor prognosis due to the development of distant metastasis. Among the BC metastatic sites, lung is one of the most common sites. Caveolin-1 (Cav-1) is a functional membrane protein that plays a vital role in tumor metastasis. Although studies have revealed that Cav-1 levels were elevated in patients with advanced cancer, whether Cav-1 affects BC lung metastasis by influencing the formation of pre-metastatic niche (PMN) through exosomes has not been explored.
Methods: Differential ultracentrifugation, transmission electron microscopy and nanoparticle tracking analysis were used to verify the presence of exosomes. Transwell assays were used to examine the biological effects of exosomes containing Cav-1. Both in vitro cell cultures and mammary tumor cell-induced mouse models were used to assess the lung metastasis. The regulatory mechanisms of PMN formation were revealed using western blot, flow cytometry, RT-qPCR, immunofluorescence assays, gene overexpression assays and RNA interference assays.
Results: Exosomes have critical functions in transporting Cav-1 between primary BC and metastatic organ microenvironments. Cav-1 in BC-derived exosomes can act as a signaling molecule to mediate intercellular communication and regulate the PMN before lung metastasis by regulating the expression of PMN marker genes and inflammatory chemokines in lung epithelial cells, promoting the secretion of tenascin-C (TnC) in lung fibroblasts to cause extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, and inhibiting the PTEN/CCL2/VEGF-A signaling pathway in lung macrophages to facilitate their M2-type polarization and angiogenesis.
Conclusion: Our study investigated the mechanisms of lung PMN formation induced by Cav-1 in BC-derived exosomes. Our data may provide new directions for exploring the mechanisms and developing treatment strategies of BC lung metastasis.
Keywords: exosome, caveolin 1, pre-metastatic niche, breast cancer, lung metastasis