WNT signaling plays an important role in fibrotic processes in the heart. Recently, exosomes have been proposed as novel extracellular transporters for WNT proteins. In this study, we analyzed whether WNT3a and WNT5a carried by exosomes could activate downstream molecular pathways in human cardiac fibroblasts. Exosomes were isolated from conditioned medium of control, WNT3a- and WNT5a-producing L cells by differential ultracentrifugations. Obtained exosomes showed size ranging between 20⁻150 nm and expressed exosomal markers ALG-2-interacting protein X and CD63. Treatment with WNT3a-rich exosomes inhibited activity of glycogen synthase kinase 3β, induced nuclear translocation of β-catenin, and activated T-cell factor /lymphoid enhancer factor transcription factors as well as expression of WNT/β-catenin responsive genes in cardiac fibroblasts, but did not coactivate extracellular signal-regulated kinase, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, and activator protein 1 signaling pathways. In contrast, exosomes produced by WNT5a-producing L cells failed to activate β-catenin-dependent response, but successfully triggered phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and JNK and stimulated IL-6 production. In conclusion, exosomes containing WNT proteins can functionally contribute to cardiac fibrosis by activating profibrotic WNT pathways on cardiac fibroblasts and may represent a novel mechanism of spreading profibrotic signals in the heart.
WNT3a and WNT5a Transported by Exosomes Activate WNT Signaling Pathways in Human Cardiac Fibroblasts. Działo E, Rudnik M, Koning RI, Czepiel M, Tkacz K, Baj-Krzyworzeka M, Distler O, Siedlar M, Kania G, Błyszczuk P. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Mar 21;20(6). pii: E1436. doi: 10.3390/ijms20061436.