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Mechanisms of nuclear content loading to exosomes.


Exosome cargoes are highly varied and include proteins, small RNAs, and genomic DNA (gDNA). The presence of gDNA suggests that different intracellular compartments contribute to exosome loading, resulting in distinct exosome subpopulations. However, the loading of gDNA and other nuclear contents into exosomes (nExo) remains poorly understood. Here, we identify the relationship between cancer cell micronuclei (MN), which are markers of genomic instability, and nExo formation. Imaging flow cytometry analyses reveal that 10% of exosomes derived from cancer cells and <1% of exosomes derived from blood and ascites from patients with ovarian cancer carry nuclear contents. Treatment with genotoxic drugs resulted in increased MN and nExos both in vitro and in vivo. We observed that multivesicular body precursors and exosomal markers, such as the tetraspanins, directly interact with MN. Collectively, this work provides new insights related to nExos, which have implications for cancer biomarker development.

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