Proteomic Profiling of Rhabdomyosarcoma-Derived Exosomes Yield Insights into Their Functional Role in Paracrine Signaling

Ghina Rammal, Assil Fahs, Firas Kobeissy, Yehia Mechref, Jingfu Zhao, Rui Zhu, Mona Diab-Assaf, Raya Saab, Sandra E. Ghayad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Exosomes are important intercellular communication vehicles, secreted into body fluids by multiple cell types, including tumor cells. They have been demonstrated to contribute to the metastatic progression of tumor cells through paracrine signaling. Tumor exosomes contain intact and functional proteins, mRNA and miRNA that may alter the cellular environment to favor tumor growth. We evaluated the protein cargo of exosomes derived from the childhood tumor rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) and the molecular pathways they are implicated in to decipher their role in the progression of this aggressive disease. We conducted a mass spectrometry analysis of exosome content isolated from five RMS cell lines: three of embryonal RMS (ERMS) and two of alveolar RMS (ARMS) histology and verified results by multiple reaction monitoring and western blot analyses. Results revealed 161 common proteins in ERMS-derived exosomes and 122 common proteins in ARMS-derived exosomes, of which 81 proteins were common to both subtypes. Using both PANTHER gene classification and Pathway Studio software, we assessed the perturbed biological processes and altered pathways in which the exosomal proteins are involved. The 81 commonly expressed proteins included those involved in "cell-signaling," "cell-movement," and "cancer." Pathways engaging the identified proteins revealed 37 common pathways including "integrin signaling pathway," "inflammation mediated by chemokine and cytokine signaling pathway," and "angiogenesis." Finally, a comparison of exosomal proteins of RMS cells with publicly available datasets from other cancer cells revealed that 36 proteins are specific and endogenous to the RMS-exosomes. Taken together, our results reveal that RMS-derived exosomes carry a protein cargo that contributes to conserved cellular signaling networks across multiple cell lines, and we also identify RMS exosome-specific proteins that should be further evaluated as possible novel biomarkers for this tumor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3567-3579
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 4 2019


  • exosomes
  • pathways
  • proteomics
  • rhabdomyosarcoma


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