Dr. Suresh K Alahari discovered the novel protein, Nischarin, which is involved in a number of biological processes, including the regulation of breast cancer cell migration and movement. Although his lab has shown that Nischarin functions as a tumor suppressor, research continues to uncover new information that may lead to better treatments. In the current study, the research team investigated Nischarin's function in exosome release. Exosomes are nano-sized vesicles (fluid-filled sacs) containing proteins, and genetic and other material involved in both physiological and pathological processes. Tumor-derived exosomes contain various signaling messengers for intercellular communication involved in tumor progression and metastasis of cancer. Tumor exosomes influence the interactions of various types of cells within the tumor microenvironment, regulating tumor development, progression, and metastasis. Primary tumors release exosomes that can enhance seeding and growth of metastatic cancer cells. Among the researchers' findings: Nischarin regulates cell attachment and alters the properties of exosomes. Exosomes from Nischarin-positive cells reduce breast cancer cell motility and adhesion, as well as tumor volume. Nischarin-positive cells release fewer exosomes, and cell survival is decreased. Co-culturing breast cancer cells with Nischarin-positive exosomes decreases tumor growth and lung metastasis. "This novel role for the tumor suppressor Nischarin not only increases our understanding of the exosome biology, but can be translated to identifying new targets for modulating cancer metastasis," notes Dr. Alahari.
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