It’s a vesicle! It’s an exosome! It’s Supermere!
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are tiny molecular containers found in circulating body fluids that participate in communication between cells by carrying important molecular signals through the body. Researchers are learning that there are many different types of EVs, such as exosomes or exomeres, that are present in healthy and diseased tissues. Most EVs are defined by their size, the composition of the membrane that encloses them, or where they originated in the body. Researchers from the NIH Common Fund’s Extracellular RNA Communication (ERC) program are now exploring how to isolate single EVs and characterize their molecular contents. As part of this effort, Dr. Robert Coffey and colleagues have described a new extracellular nanoparticle vesicle, found in supernatant of samples they were studying which they have termed a “supermere.” They have described this type of vesicle as physically distinct from currently known vesicles and as a new functional nano-scale particle. Additionally, they provide evidence for its potential use as both a circulating biomarker and as a therapeutic target that can be exploited for clinical benefit in several diseases.
In their study “Supermeres are functional extracellular nanoparticles replete with disease biomarkers and therapeutic targets,” Dr. Robert Coffey and colleagues identified the proteins and small RNA molecules contained in different vesicles, including small EVs, exomeres, and the newly uncovered supermeres. They then looked at distribution in body fluids of each vesicle type and identified several new functional features of supermeres. For example, supermeres derived from a distinct type of colorectal cancer cell can give drug resistance to a recipient cell. Supermeres from other cancer cells increase the release of lactate from recipient cells, a hallmark of cancerous tissues. And finally, supermeres were shown to alter liver metabolism when injected into model organisms.
- Supermeres are functional extracellular nanoparticles replete with disease biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Zhang, Q., Jeppesen, D.K., Higginbotham, J.N. et al. Nat Cell Biol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41556-021-00805-8