Studying the Fate of Tumor Extracellular Vesicles at High Spatiotemporal Resolution Using the Zebrafish Embryo

Dev Cell. 2019 Feb 25;48(4):554-572.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2019.01.014. Epub 2019 Feb 7.


Tumor extracellular vesicles (EVs) mediate the communication between tumor and stromal cells mostly to the benefit of tumor progression. Notably, tumor EVs travel in the bloodstream, reach distant organs, and locally modify the microenvironment. However, visualizing these events in vivo still faces major hurdles. Here, we describe an approach for tracking circulating tumor EVs in a living organism: we combine chemical and genetically encoded probes with the zebrafish embryo as an animal model. We provide a first description of tumor EVs' hemodynamic behavior and document their intravascular arrest. We show that circulating tumor EVs are rapidly taken up by endothelial cells and blood patrolling macrophages and subsequently stored in degradative compartments. Finally, we demonstrate that tumor EVs activate macrophages and promote metastatic outgrowth. Overall, our study proves the usefulness and prospects of zebrafish embryo to track tumor EVs and dissect their role in metastatic niches formation in vivo.

Keywords: correlated light and electron microscopy; exosomes; extracellular vesicles; patrolling macrophages; premetastatic niche; zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology*
  • Exosomes / metabolism
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment / physiology*
  • Zebrafish