Molecular reprogramming of stromal microarchitecture by tumour-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) is proposed to favour pre-metastatic niche formation. We elucidated the role of extravesicular tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP1EV) in pro-invasive extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling of the liver microenvironment to aid tumour progression in colorectal cancer (CRC). Immunohistochemistry analysis revealed a high expression of stromal TIMP1 in the invasion front that was associated with poor progression-free survival in patients with colorectal liver metastases. Molecular analysis identified TIMP1EV enrichment in CRC-EVs as a major factor in the induction of TIMP1 upregulation in recipient fibroblasts. Mechanistically, we proved that EV-mediated TIMP1 upregulation in recipient fibroblasts induced ECM remodelling. This effect was recapitulated by human serum-derived EVs providing strong evidence that CRC release active EVs into the blood circulation of patients for the horizontal transfer of malignant traits to recipient cells. Moreover, EV-associated TIMP1 binds to HSP90AA, a heat-shock protein, and the inhibition of HSP90AA on human-derived serum EVs attenuates TIMP1EV-mediated ECM remodelling, rendering EV-associated TIMP1 a potential therapeutic target. Eventually, in accordance with REMARK guidelines, we demonstrated in three independent cohorts that EV-bound TIMP1 is a robust circulating biomarker for a non-invasive, preoperative risk stratification in patients with colorectal liver metastases.
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|Published - 18 Mar 2022