Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a tumor suppressor syndrome caused by mutations in TSC1 or TSC2, encoding hamartin and tuberin, respectively. These proteins act as a complex that inhibits mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-mediated cell growth and proliferation. Loss of either protein leads to overgrowth in many organs, including subependymal nodules, subependymal giant cell astrocytomas, and cortical tubers in the human brain. Neurological manifestations in TSC include intellectual disability, autism, hydrocephalus, and epilepsy. In a stochastic mouse model of TSC1 brain lesions, complete loss of Tsc1 is achieved in homozygous Tsc1-floxed mice in a subpopulation of neural cells in the brain by intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) injection at birth of an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector encoding Cre recombinase. This results in median survival of 38 days and brain pathology, including subependymal lesions and enlargement of neuronal cells. Remarkably, when these mice were injected intravenously on day 21 with an AAV9 vector encoding hamartin, most survived at least up to 429 days in apparently healthy condition with marked reduction in brain pathology. Thus, a single intravenous administration of an AAV vector encoding hamartin restored protein function in enough cells in the brain to extend lifespan in this TSC1 mouse model.
Analysis of cancer-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) in biofluids potentially provides a source of disease biomarkers. At present there is no procedure to systematically identify which antigens should be targeted to differentiate cancer-derived from normal host cell-derived EVs. Here, we propose a computational framework that integrates information about membrane proteins in tumors and normal tissues from databases: UniProt, The Cancer Genome Atlas, the Genotype-Tissue Expression Project, and the Human Protein Atlas. We developed two methods to assess capture of EVs from specific cell types. (1) We used palmitoylated fluorescent protein (palmtdTomato) to label tumor-derived EVs. Beads displaying antibodies of interest were incubated with conditioned medium from palmtdTomato-expressing cells. Bound EVs were quantified using flow cytometry. (2) We also showed that membrane-bound Gaussia luciferase allows the detection of cancer-derived EVs in blood of tumor-bearing animals. Our analytical and validation platform should be applicable to identify antigens on EVs from any tumor type.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by cells play a role in intercellular communication. Reporter and targeting proteins can be modified and exposed on the surface of EVs to investigate their half-life and biodistribution. A characterization of membrane-bound Gaussia luciferase (mbGluc) revealed that its signal was detected also in a form smaller than common EVs (<70 nm). We demonstrated that mbGluc initially exposed on the surface of EVs, likely undergoes proteolytic cleavage and processed fragments of the protein are released into the extracellular space in active form. Based on this observation, we developed a new assay to quantitatively track shedding of membrane proteins from the surface of EVs. We used this assay to show that ectodomain shedding in EVs is continuous and is mediated by specific proteases, e.g. metalloproteinases. Here, we present a novel tool to study membrane protein cleavage and release using both in vitro and in vivo models.