Flash Talk and Poster Presentation 35th Lorne Cancer Conference 2023

Oncogenic mutant p53 proteins are selectively shuttled by cancer extracellular vesicles to educate the tumor microenvironment (#8)

Bibek Bhatta 1 , Ishai Luz 1 , Christian Krueger 2 , Fanny Xueting Teo 2 , David P Lane 3 , Kanaga Sabapathy 2 4 , Tomer Cooks 1
  1. Ben Gurion University, Beersheva, Israel
  2. Division of Cellular & Molecular Research, Humphrey Oei Institute of Cancer Research, National Cancer Centre Singapore, Singapore
  3. p53 Laboratory (p53Lab), Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
  4. Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore


Most cancers harbor mutations in the TP53 gene (encoding for the p53 tumor suppressor protein). Furthermore, gain-of-function (GOF) mutation in p53 imparts an aggressive traits to the cells when compared to the cancer cells harboring inactivating mutations or wild-type (WT)-p53. Notably, multiple studies have delineated the presence of GOF-mutant p53 protein in untransformed cells or in stromal compartments of tumor microenvironment (TME). In recent years, the involvement of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in cell-to-cell communication has emerged as a major route by which cancer cells can interact and educate immune, and non-immune cells in TME to become tumor supportive.  To this end, we hypothesize that mutant p53 protein can be shuttled via EVs to TME cells thus shedding light on a novel non-cell autonomous role of mutant p53 cancers.


EVs were isolated from various cancer cell lines (pancreas, lung, colon) differing by their p53 status and the effect on neighboring cancer cells and TME cells was studied in vitro and in-vivo. We also utilized the human colorectal Colo-320DM cancer cell xenograft model, which expresses the R248W p53 mutant. FFPE sections of subcutaneous tumors derived from the Colo-320DM xenografts were stained for p53 using the DO-1 antibody that specifically recognizes human p53.


Our data demonstrated that mutant p53 protein can be selectively sorted into EVs; that mutant p53 in EVs can be taken up by neighboring cancer cells and macrophages that do not harbor mutant p53 protein. Evident of macrophage education was seen with the increased expression and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Notably, mutant p53 expression was also found in non-tumor cells in both human cancers, and in non-human tissues in human xenografts.


Cancer cells harboring GOF p53 mutants, can package mutant p53 proteins in EVs, and deliver them to neighboring cancer cells and to the TME.