Small extracellular vesicles (sEV or exosomes) are nanovesicles (30–150 nm) released both in vivo and in vitro by most cell types. Tumor cells produce sEV called TEX and disperse them throughout all body fluids. TEX contain a cargo of proteins, lipids, and RNA that is similar but not identical to that of the “parent” producer cell (i.e., the cargo of exosomes released by melanoma cells is similar but not identical to exosomes released by melanocytes), possibly due to selective endosomal packaging. TEX and their role in cancer biology have been intensively investigated largely due to the possibility that TEX might serve as key component of a “liquid tumor biopsy.” TEX are also involved in the crosstalk between cancer and immune cells and play a key role in the suppression of anti-tumor immune responses, thus contributing to the tumor progression. Most of the available information about the TEX molecular composition and functions has been gained using sEV isolated from supernatants of cancer cell lines. However, newer data linking plasma levels of TEX with cancer progression have focused attention on TEX in the patients’ peripheral circulation as potential biomarkers of cancer diagnosis, development, activity, and response to therapy. Here, we consider the molecular cargo and functions of TEX as potential biomarkers of one of the most fatal malignancies—melanoma. Studies of TEX in plasma of patients with melanoma offer the possibility of an in-depth understanding of the melanoma biology and response to immune therapies. This review features melanoma cell-derived exosomes (MTEX) with special emphasis on exosome-mediated signaling between melanoma cells and the host immune system.
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