Proteome characterization of melanoma exosomes reveals a specific signature for metastatic cell lines

Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2015 Jul;28(4):464-75. doi: 10.1111/pcmr.12380. Epub 2015 May 30.


Exosomes are important mediators in cell-to-cell communication and, recently, their role in melanoma progression has been brought to light. Here, we characterized exosomes secreted by seven melanoma cell lines with varying degrees of aggressivity. Extensive proteomic analysis of their exosomes confirmed the presence of characteristic exosomal markers as well as melanoma-specific antigens and oncogenic proteins. Importantly, the protein composition differed among exosomes from different lines. Exosomes from aggressive cells contained specific proteins involved in cell motility, angiogenesis, and immune response, while these proteins were less abundant or absent in exosomes from less aggressive cells. Interestingly, when exposed to exosomes from metastatic lines, less aggressive cells increased their migratory capacities, likely due to transfer of pro-migratory exosomal proteins to recipient cells. Hence, this study shows that the specific protein composition of melanoma exosomes depends on the cells' aggressivity and suggests that exosomes influence the behavior of other tumor cells and their microenvironment.

Keywords: biomarker; cancer; exosome; extracellular vesicles; melanoma; metastasis; proteome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Melanoma / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Proteome / metabolism*
  • Proteomics


  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Proteome