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Vesicle-mediated communication in the tumor microenvironment: impact on tumor development and progression

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are increasingly acknowledged as important mediators of cell-cell communication, associated with immune responses, and play important roles in malignant diseases. EVs are membrane-surrounded particles that are released by all cell types by diverse mechanisms, have distinct cargoes of proteins, lipids as well as nucleic acids, and can modulate the state of recipient cells. They have been identified in virtually all body fluids, are implicated in the pathology of human diseases, and represent promising new diagnostic tools and therapeutics. Despite this, the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for specific EV functions remain elusive. Our understanding of EV biogenesis and loading with molecules determining EV function, as well as EV-mediated signalling mechanisms in recipient cells, is still limited but critical for our basic understanding of EV biology and the development of future clinical applications.

EVs (green) are taken up by  a fibroblast

Therefore, our group aims to

  1. elucidate mechanisms of cargo sorting and biosynthesis of EVs with focus on p53 and CBP/p300-BAG6 acetylation,
  2. unravel functions of EVs in cancer-associated immune regulation, and link these functions to their cargo with focus on pancreatic (KFO325) and ovarian cancer (Ovanet),
  3. investigate the potential of EVs as disease markers, therapeutic targets and tools.

Specifically, we are interested in unravelling EV-dependent mechanisms of immune cell reprogramming within the tumor microenvironment, which trigger inflammation and circumvent immune control thus resulting in cancer promotion (GRK2573/1).

EV analysis platform

Information about our Core Facility can be found on the German-language website (Core Facility FACS).