Understanding how tumor cells transition to an invasive and drug-resistant phenotype is central to cancer biology, but the mechanisms underlying this transition remain unclear. We show that sarcomas gain these malignant traits by inducing lysosomal exocytosis, a ubiquitous physiological process. During lysosomal exocytosis, the movement of exocytic lysosomes along the cytoskeleton and their docking at the plasma membrane involve LAMP1, a sialylated membrane glycoprotein and target of the sialidase NEU1. Cleavage of LAMP1 sialic acids by NEU1 limits the extent of lysosomal exocytosis. We found that by down-regulation of NEU1 and accumulation of oversialylated LAMP1, tumor cells exacerbate lysosomal exocytosis of soluble hydrolases and exosomes. This facilitates matrix invasion and propagation of invasive signals, and purging of lysosomotropic chemotherapeutics. In Arf –/– mice, Neu1 haploinsufficiency fostered the development of invasive, pleomorphic sarcomas, expressing epithelial and mesenchymal markers, and lysosomal exocytosis effectors, LAMP1 and Myosin-11. These features are analogous to those of metastatic, pleomorphic human sarcomas, where low NEU1 levels correlate with high expression of lysosomal exocytosis markers. In a therapeutic proof of principle, we demonstrate that inhibiting lysosomal exocytosis reversed invasiveness and chemoresistance in aggressive sarcoma cells. Thus, we reveal that this unconventional, lysosome-regulated pathway plays a primary role in tumor progression and chemoresistance.
Natural Sciences in General