Background: Various cancer cells, including those of colorectal cancer (CRC), release microvesicles (exosomes) into surrounding tissues and peripheral circulation. These microvesicles can mediate communication between cells and affect various tumor-related processes in their target cells.
Results: We present potential roles of CRC cell-derived microvesicles in tumor progression via a global comparative microvesicular and cellular transcriptomic analysis of human SW480 CRC cells. We first identified 11,327 microvesicular mRNAs involved in tumorigenesis-related processes that reflect the physiology of donor CRC cells. We then found 241 mRNAs enriched in the microvesicles above donor cell levels, of which 27 were involved in cell cycle-related processes. Network analysis revealed that most of the cell cycle-related microvesicle-enriched mRNAs were associated with M-phase activities. The integration of two mRNA datasets showed that these M-phase-related mRNAs were differentially regulated across CRC patients, suggesting their potential roles in tumor progression. Finally, we experimentally verified the network-driven hypothesis by showing a significant increase in proliferation of endothelial cells treated with the microvesicles.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that CRC cell-derived microvesicles are enriched in cell cycle-related mRNAs that promote proliferation of endothelial cells, suggesting that microvesicles of cancer cells can be involved in tumor growth and metastasis by facilitating angiogenesis-related processes. This information will help elucidate the pathophysiological functions of tumor-derived microvesicles, and aid in the development of cancer diagnostics, including colorectal cancer.