Ionizing radiation affects the composition of the proteome of extracellular vesicles released by head-and-neck cancer cells in vitro

Agata Abramowicz, Anna Wojakowska, Lukasz Marczak, Malgorzata Lysek-Gladysinska, Mateusz Smolarz, Michael D. Story, Joanna Polanska, Piotr Widlak, Monika Pietrowska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Exosomes and other extracellular vesicles are key players in cell-to-cell communication, and it has been proposed that they are involved in different aspects of the response to ionizing radiation, including transmitting the radiation-induced bystander effect and mediating radioresistance. The functional role of exosomes depends on their molecular cargo, including proteome content. Here we aimed to establish the proteome profile of exosomes released in vitro by irradiated UM-SCC6 cells derived from human head-and-neck cancer and to identify processes associated with radiation-affected proteins. Exosomes and other small extracellular vesicles were purified by size-exclusion chromatography from cell culture media collected 24 h after irradiation of cells with a single 2, 4 or 8 Gy dose, and then proteins were identified using a shotgun LC-MS/MS approach. Exosome-specific proteins encoded by 1217 unique genes were identified. There were 472 proteins whose abundance in exosomes was significantly affected by radiation (at any dose), including 425 upregulated and 47 downregulated species. The largest group of proteins affected by radiation (369 species) included those with increased abundance at all radiation doses (≥2 Gy). Several gene ontology terms were associated with radiation-affected exosome proteins. Among overrepresented processes were those involved in the response to radiation, the metabolism of radical oxygen species, DNA repair, chromatin packaging, and protein folding. Hence, the protein content of exosomes released by irradiated cells indicates their actual role in mediating the response to ionizing radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberrry001
Pages (from-to)289-297
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of radiation research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • exosomes
  • head-and-neck cancer
  • proteomics
  • radiation response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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