Motile hepatocellular carcinoma cells preferentially secret sugar metabolism regulatory proteins via exosomes

Proteomics. 2017 Jul;17(13-14). doi: 10.1002/pmic.201700103. Epub 2017 Jul 3.


Exosomes are deliverers of critically functional proteins, capable of transforming target cells in numerous cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We hypothesize that the motility of HCC cells can be featured by comparative proteome of exosomes. Hence, we performed the super-SILAC-based MS analysis on the exosomes secreted by three human HCC cell lines, including the non-motile Hep3B cell, and the motile 97H and LM3 cells. More than 1400 exosomal proteins were confidently quantified in each MS analysis with highly biological reproducibility. We justified that 469 and 443 exosomal proteins represented differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) in the 97H/Hep3B and LM3/Hep3B comparisons, respectively. These DEPs focused on sugar metabolism-centric canonical pathways per ingenuity pathway analysis, which was consistent with the gene ontology analysis on biological process enrichment. These pathways included glycolysis I, gluconeogenesis I and pentose phosphate pathways; and the DEPs enriched in these pathways could form a tightly connected network. By analyzing the relative abundance of proteins and translating mRNAs, we found significantly positive correlation between exosomes and cells. The involved exosomal proteins were again focusing on sugar metabolism. In conclusion, motile HCC cells tend to preferentially export more sugar metabolism-associated proteins via exosomes that differentiate them from non-motile HCC cells.

Keywords: Exosome; HCC; Motile; Proteomics; Sugar metabolism; Super-SILAC.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism*
  • Cell Movement
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Sugars / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Sugars