Emerging evidence highlights the relevance of the protein post-translational modification by SUMO (Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier) in the central nervous system for modulating cognition and plasticity in health and disease. In these processes, astrocyte-to-neuron crosstalk mediated by extracellular vesicles (EVs) plays a yet poorly understood role. Small EVs (sEVs), including microvesicles and exosomes, contain a molecular cargo of lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids that define their biological effect on target cells. Here, we investigated whether SUMOylation globally impacts the sEV protein cargo. For this, sEVs were isolated from primary cultures of astrocytes by ultracentrifugation or using a commercial sEV isolation kit. SUMO levels were regulated: 1) via plasmids that over-express SUMO, or 2) via experimental conditions that increase SUMOylation, i.e., by using the stress hormone corticosterone, or 3) via the SUMOylation inhibitor 2-D08 (2′,3′,4′-trihydroxy-flavone, 2-(2,3,4-Trihydroxyphenyl)-4H-1-Benzopyran-4-one). Corticosterone and 2-D08 had opposing effects on the number of sEVs and on their protein cargo. Proteomic analysis showed that increased SUMOylation in corticosterone-treated or plasmid-transfected astrocytes increased the presence of proteins related to cell division, transcription, and protein translation in the derived sEVs. When sEVs derived from corticosterone-treated astrocytes were transferred to neurons to assess their impact on protein synthesis using the fluorescence non-canonical amino acid tagging assay (FUNCAT), we detected an increase in protein synthesis, while sEVs from 2-D08-treated astrocytes had no effect. Our results show that SUMO conjugation plays an important role in the modulation of the proteome of astrocyte-derived sEVs with a potential functional impact on neurons.
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- Protein synthesis
- Small extracellular vesicles