Exosomes are small microvesicles secreted from the late endosomal compartment of cells. Although an increasing body of evidence indicates that they play a pivotal role in cell-to-cell communication, the biological functions of exosomes are far from fully understood. Recent work has revealed detailed proteomic profiles of exosomes from cell lines and body fluids, which may provide clues to understanding their biological significance and general importance in human diseases. Metalloproteinases include the cell surface-anchored sheddases a disintegrin and metalloproteinases, as well as cell surface-bound and soluble matrix metalloproteinases and these extracellular proteases have been detected in exosomes by proteomic analyses. Exosomes play a key role in the transfer of proteins to other cells and metalloproteinases may provide a novel platform where ectodomain shedding by these membrane proteases alters the makeup of the recipient cell's surface. This review aims to address some of the facets of exosome biology with particular emphasis on the proteolytic factors and we discuss their potential involvement in human diseases, especially tumor biology.
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