Colorectal cancer secretome & exosome biology
Professor Richard Simpson
Professor, Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering
Cell-cell communication is an integral physiological process that relies on the sending and receiving of signals. Communication may involve direct contact between adjoining cells, or require the release of secreted molecules to facilitate the interaction. Recently, extracellular vesicles (EVs) secreted from cells have been recognized to be involved in cell-cell communication. EVs comprise shed microvesicles (sMVs), apoptotic bodies and exosomes which differ based on their mechanism of biogenesis and size; of these, exosomes have been most widely studied. Exosomes are ~40–100 nm EVs released from a multitude of cell types that perform pleiotropic extracellular functions within the cellular microenvironment. These functions include intrinsic and extrinsic signalling, immunological modulation, and horizontal transfer of proteins, lipids and genetic material (miRNA/mRNA) to recipient cells.
The focus of our research is to utilise an integrated proteomic/genomic strategy directed towards understanding the role of the extracellular environment (specifically membrane vesicles; exosomes) in cancer progression. We utilise various in vitro and in vivo cancer models, and techniques including lipophilic-labelling, cell sorting, western immunoblotting, mass spectrometry-based protein profiling for discovery and targeted strategies, and miR/mRNA profiling and qRT-PCR validation. We are a well-established group consisting of several PhD and post-doctoral fellows.