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1.  Exosomes 
Exosomes are specialized membranous nano-sized vesicles derived from endocytic compartments that are released by many cell types. Microvesicles are distinctive from exosomes in that they are produced by shedding of the plasmamembrane and usually larger in size (>1 µm). Exosome biogenesis involves the tightly controlled process of inward budding from the limiting membrane of multivesicular bodies (MVBs). This results in numerous intraluminal vesicles in the lumen of MVBs that contain distinct protein repertoires. It has been suggested that microvesicles shed by certain tumor cells hold functional messenger RNA (mRNA) that may promote tumor progression. We discovered that purified exosomes contain functional microRNAs (miRNAs) and small RNA, but detected little mRNA. Although a clear and decisive distinction between microvesicles and exosomes cannot be made and different subsets of exosomes exist, we speculate that exosomes are specialized in carrying small RNA including the class 22–25 nucleotide regulatory miRNAs. To demonstrate this we developed a co-culture system and found that exosomes are continuously secreted and transferred from Epstein Barr virus (EBV)-infected cells to uninfected neighboring cells. Throughout exosome transfer, the exogenous EBV-encoded miRNAs were delivered to subcellular sites of miRNA-mediated gene repression. Additionally, we found evidence that mature miRNAs are transferred between circulating cells in humans, since we detected EBV-miRNAs in non-infected cells in the peripheral blood of patients that include monocytes and T cells. In this addendum we discuss these findings in the context of recently published papers that advanced our current knowledge of exosome physiology, (mi)RNA function and intercellular RNA transfer. Based on this information we propose that an intercellular (miRNA-based) mode of signal transmission may be well suited in controlling space-confined processes such as the initiation of immune responses in the secondary (peripheral) lymphoid tissues or in a tumor microenvironment. Deciphering the molecular mechanism(s) that control small RNA loading into exosomes and transfer to recipient cells in vitro will provide new evidence for the physiological relevance of vesicle-mediated intercellular communication in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2974077  PMID: 21057637
exosomes; microvesicles; small RNA; virus; intercellular communication
2.  Microvesicles and Viral Infection▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(24):12844-12854.
Cells secrete various membrane-enclosed microvesicles from their cell surface (shedding microvesicles) and from internal, endosome-derived membranes (exosomes). Intriguingly, these vesicles have many characteristics in common with enveloped viruses, including biophysical properties, biogenesis, and uptake by cells. Recent discoveries describing the microvesicle-mediated intercellular transfer of functional cellular proteins, RNAs, and mRNAs have revealed additional similarities between viruses and cellular microvesicles. Apparent differences include the complexity of viral entry, temporally regulated viral expression, and self-replication proceeding to infection of new cells. Interestingly, many virally infected cells secrete microvesicles that differ in content from their virion counterparts but may contain various viral proteins and RNAs. For the most part, these particles have not been analyzed for their content or functions during viral infection. However, early studies of microvesicles (L-particles) secreted from herpes simplex virus-infected cells provided the first evidence of microvesicle-mediated intercellular communication. In the case of Epstein-Barr virus, recent evidence suggests that this tumorigenic herpesvirus also utilizes exosomes as a mechanism of cell-to-cell communication through the transfer of signaling competent proteins and functional microRNAs to uninfected cells. This review focuses on aspects of the biology of microvesicles with an emphasis on their potential contributions to viral infection and pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3233125  PMID: 21976651
3.  Extracellular Vesicles in Luminal Fluid of the Ovine Uterus 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90913.
Microvesicles and exosomes are nanoparticles released from cells and can contain small RNAs, mRNA and proteins that affect cells at distant sites. In sheep, endogenous beta retroviruses (enJSRVs) are expressed in the endometrial epithelia of the uterus and can be transferred to the conceptus trophectoderm. One potential mechanism of enJSRVs transfer from the uterus to the conceptus is via exosomes/microvesicles. Therefore, studies were conducted to evaluate exosomes in the uterine luminal fluid (ULF) of sheep. Exosomes/microvesicles (hereafter referred to as extracellular vesicles) were isolated from the ULF of day 14 cyclic and pregnant ewes using ExoQuick-TC. Transmission electron microscopy and nanoparticle tracking analysis found the isolates contained vesicles that ranged from 50 to 200 nm in diameter. The isolated extracellular vesicles were positive for two common markers of exosomes (CD63 and HSP70) by Western blot analysis. Proteins in the extracellular vesicles were determined by mass spectrometry and Western blot analysis. Extracellular vesicle RNA was analyzed for small RNAs by sequencing and enJSRVs RNA by RT-PCR. The ULF extracellular vesicles contained a large number of small RNAs and miRNAs including 81 conserved mature miRNAs. Cyclic and pregnant ULF extracellular vesicles contained enJSRVs env and gag RNAs that could be delivered to heterologous cells in vitro. These studies support the hypothesis that ULF extracellular vesicles can deliver enJSRVs RNA to the conceptus, which is important as enJSRVs regulate conceptus trophectoderm development. Importantly, these studies support the idea that extracellular vesicles containing select miRNAs, RNAs and proteins are present in the ULF and likely have a biological role in conceptus-endometrial interactions important for the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3948691  PMID: 24614226
4.  Integration of maternal genome into the neonate genome through breast milk mRNA transcripts and reverse transcriptase 
Human milk samples contain microvesicles similar to the retroviruses. These microvesicles contain mRNA transcripts and possess reverse transcriptase activity. They contain about 14,000 transcripts representing the milk transcriptome. Microvesicles are also enriched with proteins related to “caveolar-mediated endocytosis signaling” pathway. It has recently been reported that microvesicles could be transferred to other cells by endocytosis and their RNA content can be translated and be functional in their new location. A significant percentage of the mammalian genome appears to be the product of reverse transcription, containing sequences whose characteristics point to RNA as a template precursor. These are mobile elements that move by way of transposition and are called retrotransposons. We thought that retrotransposons may stem from about 14,000 transcriptome of breast milk microvesicles, and reviewed the literature.
The enhanced acceptance of maternal allografts in children who were breast-fed and tolerance to the maternal MHC antigens after breastfeeding may stem from RNAs of the breast milk microvesicles that can be taken up by the breastfed infant and receiving maternal genomic information. We conclude that milk microvesicles may transfer genetic signals from mother to neonate during breastfeeding. Moreover, transfer of wild type RNA from a healthy wet-nurse to the suckling neonate through the milk microvesicles and its subsequent reverse transcription and integration into the neonate genome could result in permanent correction of the clinical manifestations in genetic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3413567  PMID: 22676860
5.  Tumour microvesicles contain retrotransposon elements and amplified oncogene sequences 
Nature communications  2011;2:180.
Tumour cells release an abundance of microvesicles containing a selected set of proteins and RNAs. Here, we show that tumour microvesicles also carry DNA, which reflects the genetic status of the tumour, including amplification of the oncogene c-Myc. We also find amplified c-Myc in serum microvesicles from tumour-bearing mice. Further, we find remarkably high levels of retrotransposon RNA transcripts, especially for some human endogenous retroviruses, such as LINE-1 and Alu retrotransposon elements, in tumour microvesicles and these transposable elements could be transferred to normal cells. These findings expand the nucleic acid content of tumour microvesicles to include: elevated levels of specific coding and non-coding RNA and DNA, mutated and amplified oncogene sequences and transposable elements. Thus, tumour microvesicles contain a repertoire of genetic information available for horizontal gene transfer and potential use as blood biomarkers for cancer.
PMCID: PMC3040683  PMID: 21285958
6.  Cardiomyocyte Microvesicles Contain DNA/RNA and Convey Biological Messages to Target Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34653.
Shedding microvesicles are membrane released vesicles derived directly from the plasma membrane. Exosomes are released membrane vesicles of late endosomal origin that share structural and biochemical characteristics with prostasomes. Microvesicles/exosomes can mediate messages between cells and affect various cell-related processes in their target cells. We describe newly detected microvesicles/exosomes from cardiomyocytes and depict some of their biological functions.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Microvesicles/exosomes from media of cultured cardiomyocytes derived from adult mouse heart were isolated by differential centrifugation including preparative ultracentrifugation and identified by transmission electron microscopy and flow cytometry. They were surrounded by a bilayered membrane and flow cytometry revealed presence of both caveolin-3 and flotillin-1 while clathrin and annexin-2 were not detected. Microvesicle/exosome mRNA was identified and out of 1520 detected mRNA, 423 could be directly connected in a biological network. Furthermore, by a specific technique involving TDT polymerase, 343 different chromosomal DNA sequences were identified in the microvesicles/exosomes. Microvesicle/exosomal DNA transfer was possible into target fibroblasts, where exosomes stained for DNA were seen in the fibroblast cytosol and even in the nuclei. The gene expression was affected in fibroblasts transfected by microvesicles/exosomes and among 333 gene expression changes there were 175 upregulations and 158 downregulations compared with controls.
Our study suggests that microvesicles/exosomes released from cardiomyocytes, where we propose that exosomes derived from cardiomyocytes could be denoted “cardiosomes”, can be involved in a metabolic course of events in target cells by facilitating an array of metabolism-related processes including gene expression changes.
PMCID: PMC3323564  PMID: 22506041
7.  Transfer of MicroRNAs by Embryonic Stem Cell Microvesicles 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4722.
Microvesicles are plasma membrane-derived vesicles released into the extracellular environment by a variety of cell types. Originally characterized from platelets, microvesicles are a normal constituent of human plasma, where they play an important role in maintaining hematostasis. Microvesicles have been shown to transfer proteins and RNA from cell to cell and they are also believed to play a role in intercellular communication. We characterized the RNA and protein content of embryonic stem cell microvesicles and show that they can be engineered to carry exogenously expressed mRNA and protein such as green fluorescent protein (GFP). We demonstrate that these engineered microvesicles dock and fuse with other embryonic stem cells, transferring their GFP. Additionally, we show that embryonic stem cells microvesicles contain abundant microRNA and that they can transfer a subset of microRNAs to mouse embryonic fibroblasts in vitro. Since microRNAs are short (21–24 nt), naturally occurring RNAs that regulate protein translation, our findings open up the intriguing possibility that stem cells can alter the expression of genes in neighboring cells by transferring microRNAs contained in microvesicles. Embryonic stem cell microvesicles may be useful therapeutic tools for transferring mRNA, microRNAs, protein, and siRNA to cells and may be important mediators of signaling within stem cell niches.
PMCID: PMC2648987  PMID: 19266099
8.  Extracellular vesicles: structure, function, and potential clinical uses in renal diseases 
Interest in the role of extracellular vesicles in various diseases including cancer has been increasing. Extracellular vesicles include microvesicles, exosomes, apoptotic bodies, and argosomes, and are classified by size, content, synthesis, and function. Currently, the best characterized are exosomes and microvesicles. Exosomes are small vesicles (40-100 nm) involved in intercellular communication regardless of the distance between them. They are found in various biological fluids such as plasma, serum, and breast milk, and are formed from multivesicular bodies through the inward budding of the endosome membrane. Microvesicles are 100-1000 nm vesicles released from the cell by the outward budding of the plasma membrane. The therapeutic potential of extracellular vesicles is very broad, with applications including a route of drug delivery and as biomarkers for diagnosis. Extracellular vesicles extracted from stem cells may be used for treatment of many diseases including kidney diseases. This review highlights mechanisms of synthesis and function, and the potential uses of well-characterized extracellular vesicles, mainly exosomes, with a special focus on renal functions and diseases.
PMCID: PMC3854311  PMID: 24141609
Extracellular vesicles; Cell biology; Kidney diseases; Diagnosis; Treatment
9.  Method for isolation and molecular characterization of extracellular microvesicles released from brain endothelial cells 
In addition to possessing intracellular vesicles, eukaryotic cells also produce extracellular microvesicles, ranging from 50 to 1000 nm in diameter that are released or shed into the microenvironment under physiological and pathological conditions. These membranous extracellular organelles include both exosomes (originating from internal vesicles of endosomes) and ectosomes (originating from direct budding/shedding of plasma membranes). Extracellular microvesicles contain cell-specific collections of proteins, glycoproteins, lipids, nucleic acids and other molecules. These vesicles play important roles in intercellular communication by acting as carrier for essential cell-specific information to target cells. Endothelial cells in the brain form the blood–brain barrier, a specialized interface between the blood and the brain that tightly controls traffic of nutrients and macromolecules between two compartments and interacts closely with other cells forming the neurovascular unit. Therefore, brain endothelial cell extracellular microvesicles could potentially play important roles in ‘externalizing’ brain-specific biomarkers into the blood stream during pathological conditions, in transcytosis of blood-borne molecules into the brain, and in cell-cell communication within the neurovascular unit.
To study cell-specific molecular make-up and functions of brain endothelial cell exosomes, methods for isolation of extracellular microvesicles using mass spectrometry-compatible protocols and the characterization of their signature profiles using mass spectrometry -based proteomics were developed.
A total of 1179 proteins were identified in the isolated extracellular microvesicles from brain endothelial cells. The microvesicles were validated by identification of almost 60 known markers, including Alix, TSG101 and the tetraspanin proteins CD81 and CD9. The surface proteins on isolated microvesicles could potentially interact with both primary astrocytes and cortical neurons, as cell-cell communication vesicles. Finally, brain endothelial cell extracellular microvesicles were shown to contain several receptors previously shown to carry macromolecules across the blood brain barrier, including transferrin receptor, insulin receptor, LRPs, LDL and TMEM30A.
The methods described here permit identification of the molecular signatures for brain endothelial cell-specific extracellular microvesicles under various biological conditions. In addition to being a potential source of useful biomarkers, these vesicles contain potentially novel receptors known for delivering molecules across the blood–brain barrier.
PMCID: PMC3560214  PMID: 23305214
Exosomes; Proteomics; Blood–brain barrier; Drug delivery; Mass spectrometry; Microvesicles; Endothelial cells; CNS; Biomarkers; Receptor-mediated transcytosis
10.  The origin, function, and diagnostic potential of RNA within extracellular vesicles present in human biological fluids 
Frontiers in Genetics  2013;4:142.
We have previously demonstrated that tumor cells release membranous structures into their extracellular environment, which are termed exosomes, microvesicles or extracellular vesicles depending on specific characteristics, including size, composition and biogenesis pathway. These cell-derived vesicles can exhibit an array of proteins, lipids and nucleic acids derived from the originating tumor. This review focuses of the transcriptome (RNA) of these extracellular vesicles. Based on current data, these vesicular components play essential roles as conveyers of intercellular communication and mediators of many of the pathological conditions associated with cancer development, progression and therapeutic failures. These extracellular vesicles express components responsible for angiogenesis promotion, stromal remodeling, signal pathway activation through growth factor/receptor transfer, chemoresistance, and genetic exchange. These tumor-derived extracellular vesicles not only to represent a central mediator of the tumor microenvironment, but their presence in the peripheral circulation may serve as a surrogate for tumor biopsies, enabling real-time diagnosis and disease monitoring.
PMCID: PMC3726994  PMID: 23908664
exosomes; microvesicles; transcriptome; microRNA; early diagnosis
11.  P2X7 receptor-stimulated secretion of MHC-II-containing exosomes requires the ASC/NLRP3 inflammasome but is independent of caspase-11 
We recently reported that P2X7 receptor (P2X7R)-induced activation of caspase-1 inflammasomes is accompanied by release of MHC-II protein into extracellular compartments during brief stimulation of murine macrophages with ATP. Here we demonstrate that MHC-II containing membranes released from macrophages or dendritic cells (DC) in response to P2X7R stimulation comprise two pools of vesicles with distinct biogenesis: one pool comprises 100–600 nm microvesicles derived from direct budding of the plasma membrane while the second pool is composed of 50–80 nm exosomes released from multivesicular bodies (MVB). ATP-stimulated release of MHC-II in these membrane fractions is observed within 15 min and results in the export of ~15% of the total MHC-II pool within 90 min. ATP did not stimulate MHC-II release in macrophages from P2X7R-knockout mice. The inflammasome regulatory proteins, ASC and NLRP3, which are essential for caspase-1 activation, were also required for the P2X7R-regulated release of the exosome but not the microvesicle MHC-II pool. Treatment of BMDM with YVAD-cmk, a peptide inhibitor of caspase-1, also abrogated P2X7R-dependent MHC-II secretion. Surprisingly however, MHC-II release in response to ATP was intact in caspase-1−/− macrophages. The inhibitory actions of YVAD-cmk were mimicked by the pan-caspase inhibitor zVAD-fmk and the serine protease inhibitor TPCK, but not the caspase-3 inhibitor, DEVD-cho. These data suggest that the ASC/NLRP3 inflammasome complexes assembled in response to P2X7R activation involve protease effector(s) in addition to caspase-1 and that these proteases may play important roles in regulating the membrane trafficking pathways that control biogenesis and release of MHCII-containing exosomes.
PMCID: PMC2768485  PMID: 19342685
12.  Glioma microvesicles carry selectively packaged coding and non-coding RNAs which alter gene expression in recipient cells 
RNA Biology  2013;10(8):1333-1344.
Interactions between glioma cells and their local environment are critical determinants of brain tumor growth, infiltration and neovascularisation. Communication with host cells and stroma via microvesicles represents one pathway by which tumors can modify their surroundings to achieve a tumor-permissive environment. Here we have taken an unbiased approach to identifying RNAs in glioma-derived microvesicles, and explored their potential to regulate gene expression in recipient cells. We find that glioma microvesicles are predominantly of exosomal origin and contain complex populations of coding and noncoding RNAs in proportions that are distinct from those in the cells from which they are derived. Microvesicles show a relative depletion in microRNA compared with their cells of origin, and are enriched in unusual or novel noncoding RNAs, most of which have no known function. Short-term exposure of brain microvascular endothelial cells to glioma microvesicles results in many gene expression changes in the endothelial cells, most of which cannot be explained by direct delivery of transcripts. Our data suggest that the scope of potential actions of tumor-derived microvesicles is much broader and more complex than previously supposed, and highlight a number of new classes of small RNA that remain to be characterized.
PMCID: PMC3817155  PMID: 23807490
exosome; microparticle; glioblastoma; small noncoding RNA; vault RNA; gene expression
13.  Analyzing the Circulating MicroRNAs in Exosomes/Extracellular Vesicles from Serum or Plasma by qRT-PCR 
Small extracellular vesicles are released from both healthy and disease cells to facilitate cellular communication. They have a wide variety of names including exosomes, microvesicles and microparticles. Depending on their size, very small extracellular vesicles originating from the endocytic pathway have been called exosomes and in some cases nanovesicles. Collectively, extracellular vesicles are important mediators of a wide variety of functions including immune cell development and homeostasis. Encapsulated in the extracellular vesicles are proteins and nucleic acids including mRNA and microRNA molecules. MicroRNAs are small, non-coding RNA molecules implicated in the post-transcriptional control of gene expression that have emerged as important regulatory molecules and are involved in disease pathogenesis including cancer. In some diseases, not only does the quantity and the subpopulations of extracellular vesicles change in the peripheral blood but also microRNAs. Here, we described the analysis of peripheral blood extracellular vesicles by flow cytometry and the RNA extraction from extracellular vesicles isolated from the plasma or serum to profile microRNA expression.
PMCID: PMC3923604  PMID: 23719947
microRNA; Extracellular vesicles; Quantitative reverse transcription real-time PCR (qRT-PCR); Flow cytometry; RNA extraction
14.  Endometrial Exosomes/Microvesicles in the Uterine Microenvironment: A New Paradigm for Embryo-Endometrial Cross Talk at Implantation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58502.
Exosomes are nanoparticles (∼100 nm diameter) released from cells, which can transfer small RNAs and mRNA via the extracellular environment to cells at distant sites. We hypothesised that exosomes or the slightly larger microvesicles (100–300 nm) are released from the endometrial epithelium into the uterine cavity, and that these contain specific micro (mi)RNA that could be transferred to either the trophectodermal cells of the blastocyst or to endometrial epithelial cells, to promote implantation. The aim of this study was to specifically identify and characterise exosomes/microvesicles (mv) released from endometrial epithelial cells and to determine whether exosomes/mv are present in uterine fluid. Immunostaining demonstrated that the tetraspanins, CD9 and CD63 used as cell surface markers of exosomes are present on the apical surfaces of endometrial epithelial cells in tissue sections taken across the menstrual cycle: CD63 showed cyclical regulation. Exosome/mv pellets were prepared from culture medium of endometrial epithelial cell (ECC1 cells) and from uterine fluid and its associated mucus by sequential ultracentifugation. Exosomes/mv were positively identified in all preparations by FACS and immunofluorescence staining following exosome binding to beads. Size particle analysis confirmed the predominance of particles of 50–150 nm in each of these fluids. MiRNA analysis of the ECC1 cells and their exosomes/mv demonstrated sorting of miRNA into exosomes/mv: 13 of the 227 miRNA were specific to exosomes/mv, while a further 5 were not present in these. The most abundant miRNA in exosomes/mv were hsa-miR-200c, hsa-miR-17 and hsa-miR-106a. Bioinformatic analysis showed that the exosome/mv-specific miRNAs have potential targets in biological pathways highly relevant for embryo implantation. Thus exosomes/mv containing specific miRNA are present in the microenvironment in which embryo implantation occurs and may contribute to the endometrial-embryo cross talk essential for this process.
PMCID: PMC3596344  PMID: 23516492
15.  Urea-nuclease treatment of concentrated retrovirions preserves viral RNA and removes polymerase chain reaction-amplifiable cellular RNA and DNA 
Journal of virological methods  2006;137(2):304-308.
Cellular nucleic acids can interfere with the molecular cloning of retroviruses, a problem that is particularly serious with viruses propagated in lymphoblastoid cells that release large amounts of microvesicles and other cellular components. The approach taken to circumvent such problems involved first suspending viral pellets in water to allow any residual microvesicles to swell and perhaps lyse during overnight or longer incubation periods. Urea was then added to a concentration of 1.5-2.0 M to uncoil proteins that may protect nucleic acids from hydrolysis on the further addition of Micrococcal nuclease and ribonuclease A, both of which remain enzymatically active in molar urea solutions. The viral RNA was extracted and residual DNA removed by deoxyribonuclease I treatments. The utility of the method was demonstrated with two different retroviruses, a Moloney murine leukemia virus variant and Rous sarcoma virus, such that viral RNA thus purified was shown to be free of contamination by PCR-amplifiable cellular GAPDH mRNA and ribosomal RNA. This general approach should be applicable to viruses of any type in circumstances where contamination by cellular RNA and DNA poses a problem.
PMCID: PMC2575689  PMID: 16920200
Retroviruses; Ribonuclease; Urea; Micrococcal nuclease
16.  Overview of Extracellular Microvesicles in Drug Metabolism 
Importance of the field
Liver is the major body reservoir for enzymes involved in the metabolism of endogenous and xenobiotic compounds. Recently, it has been shown that hepatocytes release exosome-like vesicles to the extracellular medium, and the proteomic characterization of these hepatocyte-secreted exosomes has revealed the presence of several of these enzymes on them.
Areas covered in this review
A systematic bibliographic search focus on two related aspects: 1) xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes that have been detected in microvesicles, and 2) microvesicles which are in the blood stream or secreted by cell-types with clear interactions with this fluid.
What the reader will gain
A discussion of these hepatocyte-secreted vesicles along with others microvesicles as enzymatic carriers in the context of extrahepatic drug-metabolizing systems.
Take home message
The contribution of many tissues including the liver to the microvesicles plasma population is supported by several reports. On the other hand, many enzymes involved in the metabolism of drugs have been detected in microvesicles. Together, these observations argue positively through a role of hepatic-microvesicles in spreading the liver metabolizing activities through the body contributing in this manner to extrahepatic drug metabolism systems what could be relevant for body homeostasis and pharmaceutical interests.
PMCID: PMC2856761  PMID: 20192903
Cytochromes; Drug-metabolism; Extrahepatic; Exosomes; Microvesicles
17.  Leishmania Exosomes Deliver Preemptive Strikes to Create an Environment Permissive for Early Infection 
Herein, we review evidence supporting a role for Leishmania exosomes during early infection. We suggest a model in which Leishmania secreted microvesicles released into the extracellular milieu deliver effector cargo to host target cells. This cargo mediates immunosuppression and functionally primes host cells for Leishmania invasion. Leishmania ssp. release microvesicles and the amount of vesicle release and the specific protein cargo of the vesicles is sensitive to changes in environmental conditions that mimic infection. Leishmania exosomes influence the phenotype of treated immune cells. For example, wild-type (WT) exosomes attenuate interferon-γ-induced pro-inflammatory cytokine production (TNF-α) by Leishmania-infected monocytes while conversely enhancing production of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. The Leishmania proteins GP63 and elongation factor-1α (EF-1α) are found in secreted vesicles and are likely important effectors responsible for these changes in phenotype. GP63 and EF-1α access host cell cytosol and activate multiple host protein-tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs). Activation of these PTPs negatively regulates interferon-γ signaling and this prevents effective expression of the macrophage microbicidal arsenal, including TNF-α and nitric oxide. In addition to changing macrophage phenotype, WT vesicles dampen the immune response of monocyte-derived dendritic cells and CD4+ T lymphocytes. This capacity is lost when the protein cargo of the vesicles is modified, specifically when the amount of GP63 and EF-1α in the vesicles is reduced. It appears that exosome delivery of effector proteins results in activation of host PTPs and the negative regulatory effects of the latter creates a pro-parasitic environment. The data suggest that Leishmania exosomes secreted upon initial infection are capable of delivering effector cargo to naïve target cells wherein the cargo primes host cells for infection by interfering with host cell signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC3417360  PMID: 22919591
Leishmania; exosomes; immunosuppression; early infection; cytokine; secretion; vesicles
18.  Quantitative proteomics of extracellular vesicles derived from human primary and metastatic colorectal cancer cells 
Journal of Extracellular Vesicles  2012;1:10.3402/jev.v1i0.18704.
Cancer cells actively release extracellular vesicles (EVs), including exosomes and microvesicles, into surrounding tissues. These EVs play pleiotropic roles in cancer progression and metastasis, including invasion, angiogenesis, and immune modulation. However, the proteomic differences between primary and metastatic cancer cell-derived EVs remain unclear. Here, we conducted comparative proteomic analysis between EVs derived from human primary colorectal cancer cells (SW480) and their metastatic derivatives (SW620). Using label-free quantitation, we identified 803 and 787 proteins in SW480 EVs and SW620 EVs, respectively. Based on comparison between the estimated abundance of EV proteins, we identified 368 SW480 EV-enriched and 359 SW620 EV-enriched proteins. SW480 EV-enriched proteins played a role in cell adhesion, but SW620 EV-enriched proteins were associated with cancer progression and functioned as diagnostic indicators of metastatic cancer; they were overexpressed in metastatic colorectal cancer and played roles in multidrug resistance. As the first proteomic analysis comparing primary and metastatic cancer-derived EVs, this study increases our understanding of the pathological function of EVs in the metastatic process and provides useful biomarkers for cancer metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3760640  PMID: 24009881
colorectal cancer; microvesicles; exosomes; ectosomes; metastasis; biomarker; secretome; APEX; label-free quantitative proteomics; nanoparticle tracking analysis
19.  CSE1L, a Novel Microvesicle Membrane Protein, Mediates Ras-Triggered Microvesicle Generation and Metastasis of Tumor Cells 
Molecular Medicine  2012;18(1):1269-1280.
Tumor-derived microvesicles are rich in metastasis-related proteases and play a role in the interactions between tumor cells and tumor microenvironment in tumor metastasis. Because shed microvesicles may remain in the extracellular environment around tumor cells, the microvesicle membrane protein may be the potential target for cancer therapy. Here we report that chromosome segregation 1–like (CSE1L) protein is a microvesicle membrane protein and is a potential target for cancer therapy. v-H-Ras expression induced extracellular signal–regulated kinase (ERK)-dependent CSE1L phosphorylation and microvesicle biogenesis in various cancer cells. CSE1L overexpression also triggered microvesicle generation, and CSE1L knockdown diminished v-H-Ras–induced microvesicle generation, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9 secretion and metastasis of B16F10 melanoma cells. CSE1L was preferentially accumulated in microvesicles and was located in the microvesicle membrane. Furthermore, anti-CSE1L antibody–conjugated quantum dots could target tumors in animal models. Our findings highlight a novel role of Ras-ERK signaling in tumor progression and suggest that CSE1L may be involved in the “early” and “late” metastasis of tumor cells in tumorigenesis. Furthermore, the novel microvesicle membrane protein, CSE1L, may have clinical utility in cancer diagnosis and targeted cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3521793  PMID: 22952058
20.  Identification of a Conserved Glycan Signature for Microvesicles 
Journal of proteome research  2011;10(10):4624-4633.
Microvesicles (exosomes) are important mediators of intercellular communication, playing a role in immune regulation, cancer progression and the spread of infectious agents. The biological functions of these small vesicles are dependent upon their composition, which is regulated by mechanisms that are not well understood. Although numerous proteomic studies of these particles exist, little is known about their glycosylation. Carbohydrates are involved in protein trafficking and cellular recognition. Glycomic analysis may thus provide valuable insights into microvesicle biology. In this study, we analyzed glycosylation patterns of microvesicles derived from a variety of biological sources using lectin microarray technology. Comparison of the microvesicle glycomes with their parent cell membranes revealed both enrichment and depletion of specific glycan epitopes in these particles. These include enrichment in high mannose, polylactosamine, α-2,6 sialic acid, and complex N-linked glycans and exclusion of terminal blood group A and B antigens. The polylactosamine signature derives from distinct glycoprotein cohorts in microvesicles of different origins. Taken together our data point to the emergence of microvesicles from a specific membrane microdomain, implying a role for glycosylation in microvesicle protein sorting.
PMCID: PMC3443565  PMID: 21859146
Microvesicles; lectin microarray; exosomes; glycomics; carbohydrates; glycan
21.  Distinct RNA profiles in subpopulations of extracellular vesicles: apoptotic bodies, microvesicles and exosomes 
Journal of Extracellular Vesicles  2013;2:10.3402/jev.v2i0.20677.
In recent years, there has been an exponential increase in the number of studies aiming to understand the biology of exosomes, as well as other extracellular vesicles. However, classification of membrane vesicles and the appropriate protocols for their isolation are still under intense discussion and investigation. When isolating vesicles, it is crucial to use systems that are able to separate them, to avoid cross-contamination.
EVs released from three different kinds of cell lines: HMC-1, TF-1 and BV-2 were isolated using two centrifugation-based protocols. In protocol 1, apoptotic bodies were collected at 2,000×g, followed by filtering the supernatant through 0.8 µm pores and pelleting of microvesicles at 12,200×g. In protocol 2, apoptotic bodies and microvesicles were collected together at 16,500×g, followed by filtering of the supernatant through 0.2 µm pores and pelleting of exosomes at 120,000×g. Extracellular vesicles were analyzed by transmission electron microscopy, flow cytometry and the RNA profiles were investigated using a Bioanalyzer®.
RNA profiles showed that ribosomal RNA was primary detectable in apoptotic bodies and smaller RNAs without prominent ribosomal RNA peaks in exosomes. In contrast, microvesicles contained little or no RNA except for microvesicles collected from TF-1 cell cultures. The different vesicle pellets showed highly different distribution of size, shape and electron density with typical apoptotic body, microvesicle and exosome characteristics when analyzed by transmission electron microscopy. Flow cytometry revealed the presence of CD63 and CD81 in all vesicles investigated, as well as CD9 except in the TF-1-derived vesicles, as these cells do not express CD9.
Our results demonstrate that centrifugation-based protocols are simple and fast systems to distinguish subpopulations of extracellular vesicles. Different vesicles show different RNA profiles and morphological characteristics, but they are indistinguishable using CD63-coated beads for flow cytometry analysis.
PMCID: PMC3823106  PMID: 24223256
apoptotic bodies; microvesicles; exosomes; extracellular vesicles; ultracentrifugation; characterization; RNA; electron microscopy
22.  Microglial Microvesicle Secretion and Intercellular Signaling 
Microvesicles (MVs) are released from almost all cell brain types into the microenvironment and are emerging as a novel way of cell-to-cell communication. This review focuses on MVs discharged by microglial cells, the brain resident myeloid cells, which comprise ∼10–12% of brain population. We summarize first evidence indicating that MV shedding is a process activated by the ATP receptor P2X7 and that shed MVs represent a secretory pathway for the inflammatory cytokine IL-β. We then discuss subsequent findings which clarify how IL-1 β can be locally processed and released from MVs into the extracellular environment. In addition, we describe the current understanding about the mechanism of P2X7-dependent MV formation and membrane abscission, which, by involving sphingomyelinase activity and ceramide formation, may share similarities with exosome biogenesis. Finally we report our recent results which show that microglia-derived MVs can stimulate neuronal activity and participate to the propagation of inflammatory signals, and suggest new areas for future investigation.
PMCID: PMC3357554  PMID: 22661954
microvesicles; microglial cells; IL-beta; neuronal activity; brain inflammation
23.  Membrane vesicles, current state-of-the-art: emerging role of extracellular vesicles 
Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences  2011;68(16):2667-2688.
Release of membrane vesicles, a process conserved in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, represents an evolutionary link, and suggests essential functions of a dynamic extracellular vesicular compartment (including exosomes, microparticles or microvesicles and apoptotic bodies). Compelling evidence supports the significance of this compartment in a broad range of physiological and pathological processes. However, classification of membrane vesicles, protocols of their isolation and detection, molecular details of vesicular release, clearance and biological functions are still under intense investigation. Here, we give a comprehensive overview of extracellular vesicles. After discussing the technical pitfalls and potential artifacts of the rapidly emerging field, we compare results from meta-analyses of published proteomic studies on membrane vesicles. We also summarize clinical implications of membrane vesicles. Lessons from this compartment challenge current paradigms concerning the mechanisms of intercellular communication and immune regulation. Furthermore, its clinical implementation may open new perspectives in translational medicine both in diagnostics and therapy.
PMCID: PMC3142546  PMID: 21560073
Exosome; Microvesicle; Microparticle; Apoptotic body; Cancer; Platelet; Biomarker; Autoimmune disease
24.  ARF6-regulated shedding of tumor-cell derived plasma membrane microvesicles 
Current biology : CB  2009;19(22):1875-1885.
Increased MAPK signaling, small GTPase activation, cytoskeletal rearrangements and the directed targeting of proteases to sites of extracellular matrix degradation, all accompany the process of tumor cell invasion. Several studies have implicated the small GTP-binding protein, ARF6, in tumor cell invasion although the molecular basis by which ARF6 facilitates this process is unclear.
We show that the ARF6 GTP/GDP cycle regulates the release of protease-loaded plasma membrane-derived microvesicles from tumor cells into the surrounding environment. To enable microvesicle shedding, ARF6-GTP dependent activation of phospholipase D promotes the recruitment of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) to the plasma membrane where in turn, ERK phosphorylates and activates myosin light chain kinase (MLCK). MLCK-mediated MLC phosphorylation is required for microvesicle release. Inhibition of ARF6 activation is accompanied by PKC-mediated phosphorylation of MLC, which blocks microvesicle shedding. Protein cargo appears to be selectively sorted into microvesicles and adhesion to the ECM is facilitated by microvesicle-associated integrin receptors.
Microvesicle shedding in tumor cells occurs via an actomyosin-based membrane abscission mechanism that is regulated by nucleotide cycling on ARF6. Microvesicle shedding appears to release selected cellular components, particularly those involved in cell adhesion and motility, into the surrounding environment. These findings suggest that ARF6 activation and the proteolytic activities of microvesicles both of which are thought to correlate directly with tumor progression, could potentially serve as biomarkers for disease.
PMCID: PMC3150487  PMID: 19896381
25.  Emerging Roles of Exosomes in Neuron–Glia Communication 
Brain function depends on coordinated interactions between neurons and glial cells. Recent evidence indicates that these cells release endosome-derived microvesicles termed exosomes, which are 50–100 nm in size and carry specific protein and RNA cargo. Exosomes can interact with neighboring cells raising the concept that exosomes may mediate signaling between brain cells and facilitate the delivery of bioactive molecules. Oligodendrocytes myelinate axons and furthermore maintain axonal integrity by an yet uncharacterized pathway of trophic support. Here, we highlight the role of exosomes in nervous system cell communication with particular focus on exosomes released by oligodendrocytes and their potential implications in axon–glia interaction and myelin disease, such as multiple sclerosis. These secreted vesicles may contribute to eliminate overproduced myelin membrane or to transfer antigens facilitating immune surveillance of the brain. Furthermore, there is emerging evidence that exosomes participate in axon–glia communication.
PMCID: PMC3339323  PMID: 22557979
microvesicles; exosomes; neuron–glia communication; oligodendrocytes; axon–glia interaction; myelin disease

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