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Extracellular vesicles: their role in cancer biology and epithelial-mesenchymal transition

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Version 2 2024-07-11, 05:57
Version 1 2021-08-11, 05:01
journal contribution
posted on 2021-08-11, 05:01 authored by Shashi Kumar Shashi Gopal Krishnan, David GreeningDavid Greening, Alin Rai, Maoshan Chen, Rong Xu, Adnan ShafiqAdnan Shafiq, Rommel A Mathias, HJ Zhu, Richard SimpsonRichard Simpson
Cell-cell communication is critical across an assortment of physiological and pathological processes. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) represent an integral facet of intercellular communication largely through the transfer of functional cargo such as proteins, messenger RNAs (mRNAs), microRNA (miRNAs), DNAs and lipids. EVs, especially exosomes and shed microvesicles, represent an important delivery medium in the tumour micro-environment through the reciprocal dissemination of signals between cancer and resident stromal cells to facilitate tumorigenesis and metastasis. An important step of the metastatic cascade is the reprogramming of cancer cells from an epithelial to mesenchymal phenotype (epithelial-mesenchymal transition, EMT), which is associated with increased aggressiveness, invasiveness and metastatic potential. There is now increasing evidence demonstrating that EVs released by cells undergoing EMT are reprogrammed (protein and RNA content) during this process. This review summarises current knowledge of EV-mediated functional transfer of proteins and RNA species (mRNA, miRNA, long non-coding RNA) between cells in cancer biology and the EMT process. An in-depth understanding of EVs associated with EMT, with emphasis on molecular composition (proteins and RNA species), will provide fundamental insights into cancer biology.


D.W.G. is supported by a LIMS Molecular Biology Stone Fellowship, La Trobe University Research Focus Area Leadership Grant and La Trobe University Start-up Fund. R.A.M. is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Early Career CJ Martin Fellowship APP1037043. S.K.G., A.R., M.C., R.X. and A.S. are supported by La Trobe University Postgraduate Scholarships.


Publication Date



Biochemical Journal






25p. (p. 21-45)


Portland Press



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