Cancer stem cell marker DCLK1 reprograms small extracellular vesicles toward migratory phenotype in gastric cancer cells

Proteomics. 2021 May 15;e2000098. doi: 10.1002/pmic.202000098. Online ahead of print.


Doublecortin-like kinase 1 (DCLK1) is a putative cancer stem cell marker, a promising diagnostic and prognostic maker for malignant tumors and a proposed driver gene for gastric cancer (GC). DCLK1 overexpression in a majority of solid cancers correlates with lymph node metastases, advanced disease and overall poor-prognosis. In cancer cells, DCLK1 expression has been shown to promote epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), driving disruption of cell-cell adhesion, cell migration and invasion. Here, we report that DCLK1 influences small extracellular vesicle (sEV/exosome) biogenesis in a kinase-dependent manner. sEVs isolated from DCLK1 overexpressing human GC cell line MKN1 (MKN1OE -sEVs), promote the migration of parental (non-transfected) MKN1 cells (MKN1PAR ). Quantitative proteome analysis of MKN1OE -sEVs revealed enrichment in migratory and adhesion regulators (STRAP, CORO1B, BCAM, COL3A, CCN1) in comparison to MKN1PAR -sEVs. Moreover, using DCLK1-IN-1, a specific small molecule inhibitor of DCLK1, we reversed the increase in sEV size and concentration in contrast to other EV subtypes, as well as kinase-dependent cargo selection of proteins involved in EV biogenesis (KTN1, CHMP1A, MYO1G) and migration and adhesion processes (STRAP, CCN1). Our findings highlight a specific role of DCLK1-kinase dependent cargo selection for sEVs and shed new light on its role as a regulator of signaling in gastric tumorigenesis.

Keywords: DCLK1; cell migration; extracellular vesicles; gastric cancer; proteome.