Comprehensive palmitoyl-proteomic analysis identifies distinct protein signatures for large and small cancer-derived extracellular vesicles

J Extracell Vesicles. 2020 Jun 10;9(1):1764192. doi: 10.1080/20013078.2020.1764192.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membrane-enclosed particles that play an important role in cancer progression and have emerged as a promising source of circulating biomarkers. Protein S-acylation, frequently called palmitoylation, has been proposed as a post-translational mechanism that modulates the dynamics of EV biogenesis and protein cargo sorting. However, technical challenges have limited large-scale profiling of the whole palmitoyl-proteins of EVs. We successfully employed a novel approach that combines low-background acyl-biotinyl exchange (LB-ABE) with label-free proteomics to analyse the palmitoyl-proteome of large EVs (L-EVs) and small EVs (S-EVs) from prostate cancer cells. Here we report the first palmitoyl-protein signature of EVs, and demonstrate that L- and S-EVs harbour proteins associated with distinct biological processes and subcellular origin. We identified STEAP1, STEAP2, and ABCC4 as prostate cancer-specific palmitoyl-proteins abundant in both EV populations. Importantly, localization of the above proteins in EVs was reduced upon inhibition of palmitoylation in the producing cells. Our results suggest that this post-translational modification may play a role in the sorting of the EV-bound secretome and possibly enable selective detection of disease biomarkers.

Keywords: Palmitoylation; S-acylation; exosomes; extracellular vesicles; large oncosomes; palmitoyl-proteomics; prostate cancer.