Exosomes derived from SW480 colorectal cancer cells promote cell migration in HepG2 hepatocellular cancer cells via the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway

Int J Oncol. 2016 Jan;48(1):305-12. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2015.3255. Epub 2015 Nov 19.


Exosomes are membrane-derived extracellular vesicles that have recently been recognized as important mediators of intercellular communication. In the present study, we investigated the effects of exosomes derived from SW480 colorectal cancer cells in recipient HepG2 hepatocellular cancer cells. We demonstrated that SW480-derived exosomes were taken up by the recipient HepG2 cells via dynamin-dependent endocytosis and were localized to the HepG2 lysosomes. In addition, SW480-derived exosomes induced the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 following their uptake into HepG2 cells. Of note, these changes occurred during the early phase after exosome treatment. Furthermore, SW480-derived exosomes promoted the migration of recipient HepG2 cells in a wound-healing assay, which was suppressed by pretreatment with U0126, an upstream inhibitor of ERK1/2. These results indicated that SW480-derived exosomes activated a classical mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway in recipient HepG2 cells via dynamin-dependent endocytosis and subsequently enhanced cell migration by ERK1/2 activation. Our results provide new insights into the regulation of cellular functions by exosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Endocytosis / genetics
  • Exosomes / metabolism
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Lysosomes / pathology
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / genetics
  • Phosphorylation
  • Signal Transduction