Melanoma-derived extracellular vesicles instigate proinflammatory signaling in the metastatic microenvironment

Tzlil Gener Lahav, Omer Adler, Yael Zait, Ophir Shani, Malak Amer, Hila Doron, Lilach Abramovitz, Ido Yofe, Noam Cohen, Neta Erez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The major cause of melanoma mortality is metastasis to distant organs, including lungs and brain. Reciprocal interactions of metastasizing tumor cells with stromal cells in secondary sites play a critical role in all stages of tumorigenesis and metastasis. Changes in the metastatic microenvironment were shown to precede clinically relevant metastases, and may occur prior to the arrival of disseminated tumor cells to the distant organ, thus creating a hospitable “premetastatic niche.” Exosomes secreted by tumor cells were demonstrated to play an important role in the preparation of a hospitable metastatic niche. However, the functional role of melanoma-derived exosomes on metastatic niche formation, and the downstream pathways activated in stromal cells at the metastatic niche are largely unresolved. Here we show that extracellular vesicles (EVs) secreted by metastatic melanoma cells that spontaneously metastasize to lungs and to brain, activate proinflammatory signaling in lung fibroblasts and in astrocytes. Interestingly, unlike paracrine signaling by melanoma cells, EVs secreted by metastatic melanoma cells instigated a proinflammatory gene signature in lung fibroblasts but did not activate wound-healing functions, suggesting that tumor cell-secreted EVs activate distinct CAF characteristics and tumor-promoting functions. Moreover, melanoma-secreted EVs also activated proinflammatory signaling in astrocytes, indicating that EV-mediated reprogramming of stromal cells is a general mechanism of modulating the metastatic niche in multiple distant organs. Thus, our study demonstrates that melanoma-derived EVs reprogram tumor-promoting functions in stromal cells in a distinct manner, implicating a central role for tumor-derived EV signaling in promoting the formation of an inflammatory metastatic niche.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2521-2534
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019


FundersFunder number
Saban Family Foundation
Melanoma Research Alliance
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme
European Research Council
Horizon 2020637069


    • Exosomes
    • astrocytes
    • cancer-associated fibroblasts
    • extracellular vesicles
    • melanoma
    • metastasis
    • metastatic niche


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