Emerging paradigm suggest exosomes as one of the crucial mediators of ECM-cancer cells crosstalk. Exosomes are tiny lipid bilayer nano-vesicles (30-100 nm), which vehiculate active biomaterials from one cell to another facilitating reprograming of recipient cells. Interestingly, cancer cells secrete surplus amounts of exosomes. The exosomal content and secretion patterns of cancer cells may be further sensitive to various extracellular signals including ECM stiffness.
To this end, we have recently shown that with increase in ECM stiffness, breast cancer cells display qualitative and quantitative changes in exosome secretion. Furthermore, we observed that these ECM-stiffness tuned exosomes induce dramatic phenotypic changes evocative of epithelial to mesenchymal transition accompanied with significant increase in the invasive potential of cancer cells. These findings establish a relationship between ECM stiffness, exosome secretion and invasiveness of breast cancer cells. However, it is intriguing to investigate how mechanical forces translated by exosomes are integrated with series of cellular processes with a special attention to bioenergetics, which is being investigated in this project.