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Journal of Oncology
Volume 2019, Article ID 3516973, 24 pages
Research Article

The Pancreatic Cancer-Initiating Cell Marker CD44v6 Affects Transcription, Translation, and Signaling: Consequences for Exosome Composition and Delivery

1Tumor Cell Biology, University Hospital of Surgery, Heidelberg, Germany
2Functional Proteome Analysis, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany
3Gene Core Unit, EMBL Heidelberg, Germany
4Section of Pancreas Research, University Hospital of Surgery, Heidelberg, Germany
5Department of Pathology, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Qingjie Lv; ten.haey@4102eijgniqvl and Margot Zöller; ten.xmg@relleoz.togram

Received 27 March 2019; Revised 20 May 2019; Accepted 9 June 2019; Published 7 August 2019

Guest Editor: Minchan Gil

Copyright © 2019 Hanxue Sun et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pancreatic cancer-initiating cells (PaCIC) express CD44v6 and Tspan8. A knockdown (kd) of these markers hinders the metastatic capacity, which can be rescued, if the cells are exposed to CIC-exosomes (TEX). Additional evidence that CD44v6 regulates Tspan8 expression prompted us to explore the impact of these PaCIC markers on nonmetastatic PaCa and PaCIC-TEX. We performed proteome, miRNA, and mRNA deep sequencing analyses on wild-type, CD44v6kd, and Tspan8kd human PaCIC and TEX. Database comparative analyses were controlled by qRT-PCR, Western blot, flow cytometry, and confocal microscopy. Transcriptome analysis of CD44 versus CD44v6 coimmunoprecipitating proteins in cells and TEX revealed that Tspan8, several signal-transducing molecules including RTK, EMT-related transcription factors, and proteins engaged in mRNA processing selectively associate with CD44v6 and that the membrane-attached CD44 intracytoplasmic tail supports Tspan8 and NOTCH transcription. Deep sequencing uncovered a CD44v6 contribution to miRNA processing. Due to the association of CD44v6 with Tspan8 in internalization prone tetraspanin-enriched membrane domains (TEM) and the engagement of Tspan8 in exosome biogenesis, most CD44v6-dependent changes were transferred into TEX such that the input of CD44v6 to TEX activities becomes largely waved in both a CD44v6kd and a Tspan8kd. Few differences between CD44v6kd- and Tspan8kd-TEX rely on CD44v6 being also recovered in non-TEM derived TEX, highlighting distinct TEX delivery from individual cells that jointly account for TEX-promoted target modulation. This leads us to propose a model in which CD44v6 strongly supports tumor progression by cooperating with signaling molecules, altering transcription of key molecules, and through its association with the mRNA processing machinery. The association of CD44v6 with Tspan8, which plays a crucial role in vesicle biogenesis, promotes metastases by transferring CD44v6 activities into TEM and TEM-independently derived TEX. Further investigations of the lead position of CD44v6 in shifting metastasis-promoting activities into CIC-TEX may offer a means of targeting TEX-CD44v6 in therapeutic applications.