Intercellular communication between tumor cells within the hypoxic microenvironment promote aggressiveness and poor patient prognoses for reasons that remain unclear. Here we show that hypoxic Ewing's sarcoma (EWS) cells release exosomes that promote sphere formation, a stem-like phenotype, in EWS cells by enhancing survival. Analysis of the hypoxic exosomal miRNA cargo identified a HIF1a regulated miRNA, miR-210, as a potential mediator of sphere formation in cells exposed to hypoxic exosomes. Knockdown of HIF-1a in hypoxic EWS cells led to decreased exosomal miR-210 levels and reduced the capacity of hypoxic exosomes to form spheres. Inhibition of miR-210 in hypoxic spheres attenuated sphere formation and overexpression of miR-210 in normoxic spheres significantly enhanced the number of EWS spheres. Our results indicate that hypoxic exosomal miR-210 targets the proapoptotic protein CASP8AP2 in recipient cells. Moreover, the suppression of CASP8AP2 led to a reduction in apoptotic cells and increased sphere formation. Together, the findings in this study suggest that hypoxic exosomes promote stemness in EWS cells by delivering enriched miR-210 that is capable of down-regulating apoptotic pathways, resulting in the survival of cells with increased sphere formation. Future studies will further investigate the effects of EWS derived exosomal miRNAs on target genes and the role these interactions play in driving aggressiveness in hypoxic EWS tumors.
- Ewing's sarcoma
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