Document Type


Publication Date



This article is the author’s final published version in PLoS ONE, Volume 16, Issue 12, December 2021, Article number e0261633.

The published version is available at Copyright © Wurtzel et al.


We investigated the contributions of platelet microRNAs (miRNAs) to the rate of growth and regulation of gene expression in primary ectopic tumors using mouse models. We previously identified an inhibitory role for platelets in solid tumor growth, mediated by tumor infiltration of platelet microvesicles (microparticles) which are enriched in platelet-derived miRNAs. To investigate the specific roles of platelet miRNAs in tumor growth models, we implanted pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cells as a bolus into mice with megakaryocyte-/platelet-specific depletion of mature miRNAs. We observed an ~50% increase in the rate of growth of ectopic primary tumors in these mice compared to controls including at early stages, associated with reduced apoptosis in the tumors, in particular in tumor cells associated with platelet microvesicles-which were depleted of platelet-enriched miRNAs-demonstrating a specific role for platelet miRNAs in modulation of primary tumor growth. Differential expression RNA sequencing of tumor cells isolated from advanced primary tumors revealed a broad cohort of mRNAs modulated in the tumor cells as a function of host platelet miRNAs. Altered genes comprised 548 up-regulated transcripts and 43 down-regulated transcripts, mostly mRNAs altogether spanning a variety of growth signaling pathways-notably pathways related to epithelial-mesenchymal transition-in tumor cells from platelet miRNA-deleted mice compared with those from control mice. Tumors in platelet miRNA-depleted mice showed more sarcomatoid growth and more advanced tumor grade, indicating roles for host platelet miRNAs in tumor plasticity. We further validated increased protein expression of selected genes associated with increased cognate mRNAs in the tumors due to platelet miRNA depletion in the host animals, providing proof of principle of widespread effects of platelet miRNAs on tumor cell functional gene expression in primary tumors in vivo. Together, these data demonstrate that platelet-derived miRNAs modulate solid tumor growth in vivo by broad-spectrum restructuring of the tumor cell transcriptome.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

PubMed ID