Verification of the role of exosomal microRNA in colorectal tumorigenesis using human colorectal cancer cell lines

PLoS One. 2020 Nov 11;15(11):e0242057. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0242057. eCollection 2020.


Exosomes are a group of small membranous vesicles that are shed into the extracellular environment by tumoral or non-tumoral cells and contribute to cellular communication by delivering micro RNAs (miRNAs). In this study, we aimed to evaluate the role of exosomal miRNAs from colorectal cancer cell lines in tumorigenesis, by affecting cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), which are vital constituents of the tumor microenvironment. To analyze the effect of exosomal miRNA on the tumor microenvironment, migration of the monocytic cell line THP-1 was evaluated via Transwell migration assay using CAFs isolated from colon cancer patients. The migration assay was performed with CAFs ± CCL7-blocking antibody and CAFs that were treated with exosomes isolated from colon cancer cell lines. To identify the associated exosomal miRNAs, miRNA sequencing and quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction were performed. The migration assay revealed that THP-1 migration was decreased in CCL7-blocking antibody-expressing and exosome-treated CAFs. Colon cancer cell lines contained miRNA let-7d in secreted exosomes targeting the chemokine CCL7. Exosomes from colorectal cancer cell lines affected CCL7 secretion from CAFs, possibly via the miRNA let-7d, and interfered with the migration of CCR2+ monocytic THP-1 cells in vitro.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Exosomes / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • THP-1 Cells
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • MicroRNAs

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.