The DIPG / DMG Resource Network

Research Update: Investigating the Role of DIPG-Derived Exosomes in Tumor Growth and Invasion

Cell & Bioscience


Paediatric-type diffuse High-Grade Gliomas (PDHGG) are highly heterogeneous tumours which include distinct cell sub-populations co-existing within the same tumour mass. We have previously shown that primary patient-derived and optical barcoded single-cell-derived clones function as interconnected networks. Here, we investigated the role of exosomes as a route for inter-clonal communication mediating PDHGG migration and invasion.


A comprehensive characterisation of seven optical barcoded single-cell-derived clones obtained from two patient-derived cell lines was performed. These analyses highlighted extensive intra-tumour heterogeneity in terms of genetic and transcriptional profiles between clones as well as marked phenotypic differences including distinctive motility patterns. Live single-cell tracking analysis of 3D migration and invasion assays showed that the single-cell-derived clones display a higher speed and longer travelled distance when in co-culture compared to mono-culture conditions. To determine the role of exosomes in PDHGG inter-clonal cross-talks, we isolated exosomes released by different clones and characterised them in terms of marker expression, size and concentration. We demonstrated that exosomes are actively internalized by the cells and that the inhibition of their biogenesis, using the phospholipase inhibitor GW4689, significantly reduced the cell motility in mono-culture and more prominently when the cells from the clones were in co-culture. Analysis of the exosomal miRNAs, performed with a miRNome PCR panel, identified clone-specific miRNAs and a set of miRNA target genes involved in the regulation of cell motility/invasion/migration. These genes were found differentially expressed in co-culture versus mono-culture conditions and their expression levels were significantly modulated upon inhibition of exosome biogenesis.


In conclusion, our study highlights for the first time a key role for exosomes in the inter-clonal communication in PDHGG and suggests that interfering with the exosome biogenesis pathway may be a valuable strategy to inhibit cell motility and dissemination for these specific diseases.

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