Mining Exosomal Genes for Pancreatic Cancer Targets

Exosomes, cell-derived vesicles encompassing lipids, DNA, proteins coding genes and noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) are present in diverse body fluids. They offer novel biomarker and drug therapy potential for diverse diseases, including cancer.

Using gene ontology, exosomal genes database and GeneCards metadata analysis tools, researchers at Florida Atlantic University established a database of cancer-associated protein coding genes and ncRNAs (n=2,777). Variant analysis, expression profiling and pathway mapping were used to identify putative pancreatic cancer exosomal gene candidates.

Five hundred and seventy-five protein-coding genes, 26 RNA genes and one pseudogene directly associated with pancreatic cancer were identified in the study. Nine open reading frames (ORFs) encompassing enzymes, apoptosis and transcriptional regulators, and secreted factors and five cDNAs (enzymes) emerged from the analysis. Among the ncRNA class, 26 microRNAs (miRs), one pseudogene, one long noncoding RNA (LNC) and one antisense gene were identified. Furthermore, 22 exosome-associated protein-coding targets (a cytokine, enzymes, membrane glycoproteins, receptors, and a transporter) emerged as putative leads for pancreatic cancer therapy. Seven of these protein-coding targets are FDA-approved and the drugs-based on these could provide repurposing opportunities for pancreatic cancer.

exosomesProfiling of pancreatic cancer exosomal protein coding genes. Using the VarElect and GeneAnalytics tool of the GeneCards Suite, pancreatic cancer genes were enriched for mutations, expression, pathways and secretome. The number of genes for each classifier is shown.

The database of exosomal genes established in this study provides a framework for developing novel biomarkers and drug therapy targets for pancreatic cancer.

Availability – The database of genes developed in the study will be made available freely to investigators as supplemental table upon request.

Makler A, Narayanan R. (2017) Mining Exosomal Genes for Pancreatic Cancer Targets. Cancer Genomics Proteomics 14(3):161-172. [article]

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