A new study sheds light on proteins in particles called extracellular vesicles (EVs), which are released by tumor cells into the bloodstream and promote the spread of cancer. The findings suggest how a blood test involving these vesicles might be used to diagnose cancer in the future, avoiding the need for invasive surgical biopsies. The research is a large-scale analysis of what are known as palmitoylated proteins inside EVs, according to Dolores Di Vizio (photo) (https://bio.cedars-sinai.org/diviziod/index.html), MD, PhD, Professor of Surgery, Biomedical Sciences and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Cedars-Sinai. Dr. Di Vizio is co-corresponding author of the study, published online on June 10, 2020 in the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles. The open-access article is titled “Comprehensive Palmitoyl-Proteomic Analysis Identifies Distinct Protein Signatures for Large and Small Cancer-Derived Extracellular Vesicles.” EVs have gained significant attention in the last decade because they can contain proteins and other biologically important molecules whose information can be transferred from cell to cell. EVs are known to help cancer metastasize to distant sites in the body, but exactly how this happens is not clear. To learn more about this process, Dr. Di Vizio and the research team looked into a process called palmitoylation, in which enzymes transfer lipid molecules onto proteins. Palmitoylation can affect where proteins are located within cells, what their activities are, and how they might contribute to cancer progression. The investigators examined two types of EVs, small and large, in samples of human prostate cancer cells. Using centrifuges, they separated the EVs from the other cell materials and analyzed the levels of palmitoylation and the types of proteins present.
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