Exosome-Mediated MiR-155 Transfer Contributes to Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cell Proliferation by Targeting PTEN

Med Sci Monit Basic Res. 2019 Oct 24;25:218-228. doi: 10.12659/MSMBR.918134.


BACKGROUND Most eukaryocytes release nano vesicles (30-120 nm), named exosomes, to various biological fluids such as blood, lymph, and milk. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the tumors with the highest incidence rate in primary malignant carcinoma of the liver. However, the mechanism of HCC proliferation remains elusive. In this study, we aim to explore whether HCC cell-derived exosomes affect the proliferation of cancer cells. MATERIAL AND METHODS Exosomes were isolated from HCC cells by ultracentrifugation and were visualized the phenotype by transmission electron microscopy. Cell proliferation was detected by Cell Counting Kit-8 assays and EdU (5-ethynyl-2-deoxyuridine) incorporation assays. Dual-luciferase assays were performed to validate the paired correlation of miR-155 and 3'-UTR of PTEN (gene of phosphate and tension homology deleted on chromosome 10). A xenograft mice model was constructed to verify the effect of exosome-mediated miR-155 on cell proliferation in vivo. RESULTS Our finding showed that miR-155 was enriched in exosomes released from HCC cells. The exosome-containing miR-155 transferred into new HCC targeted cells and lead to the elevation of HCC cells' proliferation. Besides, the exosomal miR-155 directly bound to 3'-UTR of PTEN leading to the reduction of relevant targets in recipient liver cells. The knockdown of PTEN attenuated the proliferation of HCC cells treated with the exosomal miR-155. Moreover, nude-mouse experiment results revealed a promotional effect of the exosomal miR-155 on HCC cell-acquired xenografts. CONCLUSIONS Our study indicated that exosomal-specific miR-155 transfers to adjacent and/or more distant cells and stimulates the proliferation of HCC cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Exosomes / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission / methods
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MIRN155 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human