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Polarized Secretion of Extracellular Vesicles by Mammary Epithelia


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are secreted by many cell types and are increasingly investigated for their role in human diseases including cancer. Here we focus on the secretion and potential physiological function of non-pathological EVs secreted by polarized normal mammary epithelial cells. Using a transwell system to allow formation of epithelial polarity and EV collection from the apical versus basolateral compartments, we found that impaired secretion of EVs by knockdown of RAB27A or RAB27B suppressed the establishment of mammary epithelial polarity, and that addition of apical but not basolateral EVs suppressed epithelial polarity in a dose-dependent manner. This suggests that apical EV secretion contributes to epithelial polarity, and a possible mechanism is through removal of certain intracellular molecules. In contrast, basolateral but not apical EVs promoted migration of mammary epithelial cells in a motility assay. The protein contents of apical and basolateral EVs from MCF10A and primary human mammary epithelial cells were determined by mass spectrometry proteomic analysis, identifying apical-EV-enriched and basolateral-EV-enriched proteins that may contribute to different physiological functions. Most of these proteins differentially secreted by normal mammary epithelial cells through polarized EV release no longer showed polarized secretion in MCF10A-derived transformed epithelial cells. Our results suggest an essential role of EV secretion in normal mammary epithelial polarization and distinct protein contents and functions in apical versus basolateral EVs secreted by polarized mammary epithelia.

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