ARTICLE ABSTRACTSmall extracellular vesicle (sEV, or exosome) communication among cells in the tumor microenvironment has been modeled mainly in cell culture, whereas their relevance in cancer pathogenesis and progression in vivo is less characterized. Here we investigated cancer–microenvironment interactions in vivo using mouse models of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). sEVs isolated directly from CLL tissue were enriched in specific miRNA and immune-checkpoint ligands. Distinct molecular components of tumor-derived sEVs altered CD8+ T-cell transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome, leading to decreased functions and cell exhaustion ex vivo and in vivo. Using antagomiRs and blocking antibodies, we defined specific cargo-mediated alterations on CD8+ T cells. Abrogating sEV biogenesis by Rab27a/b knockout dramatically delayed CLL pathogenesis. This phenotype was rescued by exogenous leukemic sEV or CD8+ T-cell depletion. Finally, high expression of sEV-related genes correlated with poor outcomes in CLL patients, suggesting sEV profiling as a prognostic tool. In conclusion, sEVs shape the immune microenvironment during CLL progression.
sEVs produced in the leukemia microenvironment impair CD8+ T-cell mediated antitumor immune response and are indispensable for leukemia progression in vivo in murine preclinical models. In addition, high expression of sEV-related genes correlated with poor survival and unfavorable clinical parameters in CLL patients.See related commentary by Zhong and Guo, p. 5.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 1