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Senescent stromal cells promote cancer resistance through SIRT1 loss-potentiated overproduction of small extracellular vesicles

By Liu Han, Qilai Long, Shenjun Li, Qixia Xu, Boyi Zhang, Xuefeng Dou, Min Qian, Yannasittha Jiramongkol, Jianming Guo, Liu Cao, Y. Eugene Chin, Eric W-F Lam, Jing Jiang, Yu Sun

Posted 23 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.22.002667 (published DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-0506)

Cellular senescence is a potent tumor-suppressive program that prevents neoplastic events. Paradoxically, senescent cells develop an inflammatory secretome, termed the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) and implicated in age-related pathologies including cancer. Here we report that senescent cells actively synthesize and release small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) with a distinctive size distribution. Mechanistically, SIRT1 loss supports accelerated sEV production despite enhanced proteome-wide ubiquitination, a process correlated with ATP6V1A downregulation and defective lysosomal acidification. Once released, senescent stromal sEVs significantly alter the expression profile of recipient cancer cells and enhance their aggressiveness, specifically drug resistance mediated by expression of ATP binding cassette subfamily B member 4 (ABCB4). Targeting SIRT1 with an agonist SRT2104 prevents development of cancer resistance through restraining sEV production by senescent stromal cells. In clinical oncology, sEVs in peripheral blood of posttreatment cancer patients are readily detectable by routine biotechniques, presenting a novel biomarker to monitor therapeutic efficacy and to predict long term outcome. Together, our study identifies a distinct mechanism supporting pathological activities of senescent cells, and provides a novel avenue to circumvent advanced human malignancies by co-targeting cancer cells and their surrounding microenvironment, which contributes to drug resistance via secretion of sEVs from senescent stromal cells.

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