Exosome-mediated delivery of functionally active miRNA-375-3p mimic regulate epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) of colon cancer cells

Life Sci. 2021 Mar 15;269:119035. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2021.119035. Epub 2021 Jan 13.


Aims: EMT is the process by which a polarized epithelial cell undergoes several changes leading to highly invasive and fibroblast-like morphology. It has been described that miR-375 is inversely associated with EMT in cancerous patients and can effectively inhibit invasion and migration of tumor cells. Here, we investigate whether miR-375 mimic delivered by tumor-derived exosomes could reverse EMT process.

Main methods: The exosomes were isolated from HT-29 and SW480. Subsequently, exosomes were loaded with miR-375-3p mimic applying modified calcium chloride method. Quantitative real-time PCR was used for evaluation of the loading efficiency of miR-375 mimic in the exosomes. The effects of miR-375 loaded tumor exosomes (TEXomiR) on EMT process investigated using flow cytometry, cell morphology, and invasion and migration assay.

Key findings: The in vitro results showed that the tumor derived exosomes can efficiently deliver miR-375 mimic to reduce the expression of β-catenin, vimentin, ZEB1, and snail. In contrast, TEXomiR significantly increased the expression of E- cadherin in EMT process. Furthermore, the migration and invasion abilities of HT-29 and SW480 cells were inhibited by TEXomiR. The expression of CD44 and CD133 are increased in EMT process. Flow cytometry evaluation demonstrated that treatment with TEXomiR significantly decreased the expression of CD44 and CD133 in SW480 cell line.

Significance: Our results imply that colon cancer cells-derived exosomes could be used as an effective nonvehicle to deliver miR-375-3p mimic. Moreover, TEXomiR may be a potent therapeutic agent for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer.

Keywords: Cancer stem cell; EMT; Epithelial mesenchymal transition; Exosomes; Gastrointestinal cancer; miR-375.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Biomimetics
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition*
  • Exosomes / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MIRN375 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs