Extracellular vesicles (EVs) in the tumor microenvironment facilitate intercellular communication. Cancer cell-derived EVs act as an immunosuppressor by transporting cargos and presenting transmembrane proteins. By contrast, CD8+ cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTLs) exert anti-cancer cytotoxicity via the pore-forming protein perforin. Here, we hypothesize that although EVs are destroyed by perforin, cancer cell-derived EVs might possess mechanisms that enable them to avoid this destruction. We used a breast cancer cell line, MDA-MB-231luc-D3H2LN (D3H2LN), to generate EVs. Destruction of the EVs by perforin was demonstrated visually using atomic force microscopy. To investigate immunosuppressive metabolites within cancer cell-derived EVs, we performed metabolomic profiling of EVs from D3H2LN cells cultured for 48 h with or without IFN-γ, which induces metabolic changes in the cells. We found that both types of EV from IFN-γ treated D3H2LN cells and non-treated D3H2LN cells contained adenosine, which has immunosuppressive effects. When we exposed cancer cell-derived EVs to CTLs, perforin secretion by CTLs fell significantly. In addition, the decreases in perforin secretion were ameliorated by treatment with adenosine deaminase, which degrades extracellular adenosine. Taken together, these results suggest that after perforin secreted by CTLs disrupts the membrane of EVs, adenosine released from the EVs acts as an immunosuppressive metabolite by binding to the adenosine receptor on the CTL membrane. This mechanism provides a novel survival strategy using cancer cell-derived EVs.
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