• apoptosis;
  • exosomes;
  • Notch signaling;
  • pancreatic cancer;
  • differentiation


We previously reported that exosomal nanoparticles secreted by human pancreatic tumoral cell lines decrease tumoral cell proliferation through the mitochondria-dependent apoptotic pathway, because of activation of pro-apoptotic phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) and of glucose synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β). Interactions between exosomal nanoparticles and cells are thought to involve membrane lipid rafts. However, the underlying mechanism is unknown. Here, we report that the interaction of exosomal nanoparticles with pancreatic cancer cells led to decreased expression of hairy and enhancer-of-split homolog-1 (Hes-1), the intranuclear target of Notch-1 signaling pathway, and to activation of the apoptotic pathway after a cell cycle arrest in G0G1 phase. Strikingly, the expression level of Notch-1 pathway components was critical, because exosomal nanoparticles decreased the proliferation of cells in which these partners are either weakly represented, in differentiated adenocarcinoma cells, or inhibited, in poorly differentiated carcinoma cells, by blocking presenilin in the γ-secretase complex that regulates the Notch-1 pathway. Overexpression of Notch-1 intracellular domain resulted in the reversion of the cell proliferation inhibition promoted by exosomal nanoparticles. Blocking presenilin unexpectedly resulted in activation of PTEN and GSK-3β. Conversely, inhibiting either PTEN or GSK-3β increased Hes-1 expression and partially counteracted the inhibition of proliferation promoted by exosomal nanoparticles, highlighting reciprocal regulations between Notch signaling and PTEN/GSK-3β. We concluded that interactions of exosomal nanoparticles with target cells, at lipid rafts where Notch-1 pathway partners are localized, hampered the functioning of the Notch-1 survival pathway and activated the apoptotic pathway, which determines tumoral cell fate. © 2009 UICC