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Extracellular vesicles derived from natural killer cells use multiple cytotoxic proteins and killing mechanisms to target cancer cells.
Wu, Chun-Hua
Li, Jingbo
Li, Li
Sun, Jianping
Fabbri, Muller
Wayne, Alan S
Seeger, Robert C
Jong, Ambrose Y
Journal of extracellular vesicles 2019;8(1): 1588538

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are secreted membrane vesicles, which play complex physiological and pathological functions in intercellular communication. Recently, we isolated natural killer (NK) cell-derived EVs (NK-EVs) from expansion of NK cell cultures. The isolated NK-EVs contained cytotoxic proteins and several activated caspases, and they induced apoptosis in target cells. In this report, the protein levels of cytotoxic proteins from NK-EV isolates were analysed by ELISA. The mean values of perforin (PFN, 550 ng/mL), granzyme A (GzmA, 185 ng/mL), granzyme B (GzmB, 23.4 ng/mL), granulysin (GNLY, 56 ng/mL), and FasL (2.5 ng/mL) were obtained from >60 isolations using dot plots. The correlation between cytotoxicity and cytotoxic protein levels was examined by linear regression. PFN, GzmA, GzmB, GNLY all had a positive, moderate correlation with cytotoxicity, suggesting that there is not a single cytotoxic protein dominantly involved in killing and that all of these proteins may contribute to cytotoxicity. To further explore the possible killing mechanisms, cells were treated with NK-EVs, proteins extracted and lysates assessed by Western blotting. The levels of Gzm A substrates, SET and HMG2, were diminished in targeted cells, indicating that GzmA may induce a caspase-independent death pathway. Also, cytochrome C was released from mitochondria, a central hallmark of caspase-dependent death pathways. In addition, several ER-associated proteins were altered, suggesting that NK-EVs may induce ER stress resulting in cell death. Our results indicate that multiple killing mechanisms are activated by NK-derived EVs, including caspase-independent and -dependent cell death pathways, which can mediate cytotoxicity against cancer cells. : NK: natural killer cells; aNK: activated NK cells; EV: extracellular vesicles; ER: endoplasmic reticulum; ALL: acute lymphoblastic leukaemia; FBS: foetal bovine serum. GzmA: granzyme A; GzmB: granzyme B; GNLY: granulysin; PFN: perforin.

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