AHNAK enables mammary carcinoma cells to produce extracellular vesicles that increase neighboring fibroblast cell motility

Oncotarget. 2016 Aug 2;7(31):49998-50016. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.10307.


Extracellular vesicles play important roles in tumor development. Many components of these structures, including microvesicles and exosomes, have been defined. However, mechanisms by which extracellular vesicles affect tumor progression are not fully understood. Here, we investigated vesicular communication between mammary carcinoma cells and neighboring nontransformed mammary fibroblasts. Nonbiased proteomic analysis found that over 1% of the entire proteome is represented in these vesicles, with the neuroblast differentiation associated protein AHNAK and annexin A2 being the most abundant. In particular, AHNAK was found to be the most prominent component of these vesicles based on peptide number, and appeared necessary for their formation. In addition, we report here that carcinoma cells produce vesicles that promote the migration of recipient fibroblasts. These data suggest that AHNAK enables mammary carcinoma cells to produce and release extracellular vesicles that cause disruption of the stroma by surrounding fibroblasts. This paradigm reveals fundamental mechanisms by which vesicular communication between carcinoma cells and stromal cells can promote cancer progression in the tumor microenvironment.

Keywords: AHNAK; cancer; cancer associated fibroblasts; extracellular vesicles; microvesicles.

MeSH terms

  • Annexin A2 / biosynthesis
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma / metabolism*
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Exosomes / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proteome
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • AHNAK protein, human
  • ANXA2 protein, human
  • Annexin A2
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Proteome