Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are important mediators of cell-cell communication in a broad variety of physiological contexts. However, there is ambiguity around the fundamental mechanisms by which these effects are transduced, particularly in relation to their uptake by recipient cells. Multiple modes of cellular entry have been suggested and we have further explored the role of glycans as potential determinants of uptake, using EVs from the murine hepatic cell lines AML12 and MLP29 as independent yet comparable models. Lectin microarray technology was employed to define the surface glycosylation patterns of EVs. Glycosidases PNGase F and neuraminidase which cleave N-glycans and terminal sialic acids, respectively, were used to analyze the relevance of these modifications to EV surface glycans on the uptake of fluorescently labelled EVs by a panel of cells representing a variety of tissues. Flow cytometry revealed an increase in affinity for EVs modified by both glycosidase treatments. High-content screening exhibited a broader range of responses with different cell types preferring different vesicle glycosylation states. We also found differences in vesicle charge after treatment with glycosidases. We conclude that glycans are key players in the tuning of EV uptake, through charge-based effects, direct glycan recognition or both, supporting glycoengineering as a toolkit for therapy development.
Scientific Reports, 2019 Aug 15;9(1)