Extracellular vesicles secreted from tumor cells are functional vehicles capable of contributing to intercellular communication and metastasis. A growing number of studies have focused on elucidating the role that tumor-derived extracellular vesicles play in spreading pancreatic cancer to other organs, due to the highly metastatic nature of the disease. We recently showed that small extracellular vesicles secreted from pancreatic cancer cells could initiate malignant transformation of healthy cells. Here, we analyzed the protein cargo contained within these vesicles using mass spectrometry-based proteomics to better understand their makeup and biological characteristics. Three different human pancreatic cancer cell lines were compared to normal pancreatic epithelial cells revealing distinct differences in protein cargo between cancer and normal vesicles. Vesicles from cancer cells contain an enrichment of proteins that function in the endosomal compartment of cells responsible for vesicle formation and secretion in addition to proteins that have been shown to contribute to oncogenic cell transformation. Conversely, vesicles from normal pancreatic cells were shown to be enriched for immune response proteins. Collectively, results contribute to what we know about the cargo contained within or excluded from cancer cell-derived extracellular vesicles, supporting their role in biological processes including metastasis and cancer progression.
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