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Cancer Microenviron. 2012 Dec;5(3):323-32. doi: 10.1007/s12307-012-0110-2. Epub 2012 May 15.

Exosomes in Cancer Microenvironment and Beyond: have we Overlooked these Extracellular Messengers?

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1
Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore, 117543, dbsgerw@nus.edu.sg.

Abstract

Cancer is a complex organ whose behavior is not only influenced by genetic and epigenetic changes in cancer cells but also by stromal cells, local extracellular matrix and specific tissue architecture. Intercellular communications within the cancer microenvironment are critical to coordinate the assembly of multiple cell types for an amalgamated form and function of a cancer. Exosomes are small membrane vesicles with an endosome origin that are released by cells into the extracellular environment. They carry a cargo of proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids and transfer their cargo to recipient cells and altering the recipient cells' biochemical composition, signaling pathways, and gene regulation. Exosomes can thus serve as extracellular messengers mediating cell-cell communication. Both cancer cells and stromal cells release exosomes not only into the cancer microenvironment but also into the circulation. In this review, we summarize the research done so far on cancer-derived exosomes and assess their roles as extracellular messengers facilitating cancer progression and metastasis.

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