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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.  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
4.  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
5.  Coxsackievirus B Exits the Host Cell in Shed Microvesicles Displaying Autophagosomal Markers 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(4):e1004045.
Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3), a member of the picornavirus family and enterovirus genus, causes viral myocarditis, aseptic meningitis, and pancreatitis in humans. We genetically engineered a unique molecular marker, “fluorescent timer” protein, within our infectious CVB3 clone and isolated a high-titer recombinant viral stock (Timer-CVB3) following transfection in HeLa cells. “Fluorescent timer” protein undergoes slow conversion of fluorescence from green to red over time, and Timer-CVB3 can be utilized to track virus infection and dissemination in real time. Upon infection with Timer-CVB3, HeLa cells, neural progenitor and stem cells (NPSCs), and C2C12 myoblast cells slowly changed fluorescence from green to red over 72 hours as determined by fluorescence microscopy or flow cytometric analysis. The conversion of “fluorescent timer” protein in HeLa cells infected with Timer-CVB3 could be interrupted by fixation, suggesting that the fluorophore was stabilized by formaldehyde cross-linking reactions. Induction of a type I interferon response or ribavirin treatment reduced the progression of cell-to-cell virus spread in HeLa cells or NPSCs infected with Timer-CVB3. Time lapse photography of partially differentiated NPSCs infected with Timer-CVB3 revealed substantial intracellular membrane remodeling and the assembly of discrete virus replication organelles which changed fluorescence color in an asynchronous fashion within the cell. “Fluorescent timer” protein colocalized closely with viral 3A protein within virus replication organelles. Intriguingly, infection of partially differentiated NPSCs or C2C12 myoblast cells induced the release of abundant extracellular microvesicles (EMVs) containing matured “fluorescent timer” protein and infectious virus representing a novel route of virus dissemination. CVB3 virions were readily observed within purified EMVs by transmission electron microscopy, and infectious virus was identified within low-density isopycnic iodixanol gradient fractions consistent with membrane association. The preferential detection of the lipidated form of LC3 protein (LC3 II) in released EMVs harboring infectious virus suggests that the autophagy pathway plays a crucial role in microvesicle shedding and virus release, similar to a process previously described as autophagosome-mediated exit without lysis (AWOL) observed during poliovirus replication. Through the use of this novel recombinant virus which provides more dynamic information from static fluorescent images, we hope to gain a better understanding of CVB3 tropism, intracellular membrane reorganization, and virus-associated microvesicle dissemination within the host.
Author Summary
Enteroviruses are significant human pathogens, causing myocarditis, aseptic meningitis and encephalitis. The mechanisms of enterovirus dissemination in the host and cell-to-cell spread may be critical factors influencing viral pathogenesis. Here, we have generated a recombinant coxsackievirus expressing “fluorescence timer” protein (Timer-CVB3) which assists in following the progression of infection within the host. Unexpectedly, we observed the shedding of microvesicles containing virus in partially-differentiated progenitor cells infected with Timer-CVB3. These extracellular microvesicles (EMVs) were released in high levels following cellular differentiation, and may play a role in virus dissemination. Timer-CVB3 will be a valuable tool in monitoring virus spread in the infected host.
PMCID: PMC3983045  PMID: 24722773
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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
12.  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
13.  Detection of microRNA Expression in Human Peripheral Blood Microvesicles 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(11):e3694.
MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate translation of mRNA and protein. Loss or enhanced expression of miRNAs is associated with several diseases, including cancer. However, the identification of circulating miRNA in healthy donors is not well characterized. Microvesicles, also known as exosomes or microparticles, circulate in the peripheral blood and can stimulate cellular signaling. In this study, we hypothesized that under normal healthy conditions, microvesicles contain miRNAs, contributing to biological homeostasis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Microvesicles were isolated from the plasma of normal healthy individuals. RNA was isolated from both the microvesicles and matched mononuclear cells and profiled for 420 known mature miRNAs by real-time PCR. Hierarchical clustering of the data sets indicated significant differences in miRNA expression between peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and plasma microvesicles. We observed 71 miRNAs co-expressed between microvesicles and PBMC. Notably, we found 33 and 4 significantly differentially expressed miRNAs in the plasma microvesicles and mononuclear cells, respectively. Prediction of the gene targets and associated biological pathways regulated by the detected miRNAs was performed. The majority of the miRNAs expressed in the microvesicles from the blood were predicted to regulate cellular differentiation of blood cells and metabolic pathways. Interestingly, a select few miRNAs were also predicted to be important modulators of immune function.
This study is the first to identify and define miRNA expression in circulating plasma microvesicles of normal subjects. The data generated from this study provides a basis for future studies to determine the predictive role of peripheral blood miRNA signatures in human disease and will enable the definition of the biological processes regulated by these miRNA.
PMCID: PMC2577891  PMID: 19002258
14.  Polarized release of TCR-enriched microvesicles at the T cell immunological synapse 
Nature  2014;507(7490):118-123.
The recognition events that mediate adaptive cellular immunity and regulate antibody responses depend on intercellular contacts between T cells and antigen presenting cells (APC)1. T cell signaling is initiated at these contacts when surface-expressed antigen receptors (TCR) recognize peptide fragments (antigens) of pathogens bound to Major Histocompatibility Complex molecules (pMHC) on APCs. This, along with engagement of adhesion receptors, leads to the formation of a specialized junction between T cells and APCs, known as the immunological synapse (IS)3, which mediates efficient delivery of effector molecules and intercellular signals across the synaptic cleft2. T cell recognition of pMHC and the adhesion ligand Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 (ICAM-1) on supported planar bilayers recapitulates the domain organization of the immunological synapse (IS)4–5, which is characterized by central accumulation of TCR5, adjacent to a secretory domain3, both surrounded by an adhesive ring4–5. Although accumulation of TCR at the IS center correlates with T cell function4, this domain is itself largely devoid of TCR signaling activity5–6, and is characterized by an unexplained immobilization of TCR-pMHC complexes relative to the highly dynamic IS periphery4–5. Here we show that centrally accumulated TCR is located on the surface of extracellular microvesicles that bud at the IS center. Tumor susceptibility gene 101 (TSG101)6 sorts TCR for inclusion in microvesicles, while vacuolar protein sorting 4 (VPS4) 7–8 mediates scission of microvesicles from the T cell plasma membrane. The HIV polyprotein GAG co-opts this process for budding of virus-like particles. B cells bearing cognate pMHC receive TCR from T cells and initiate intracellular signals in response to isolated synaptic microvesicles. We conclude that the immunological synapse orchestrates TCR sorting and release in extracellular microvesicles. These microvesicles deliver transcellular signals across antigen-dependent synapses by engaging cognate pMHC on APC.
PMCID: PMC3949170  PMID: 24487619
15.  Antiviral activity of salivary microRNAs for ophthalmic herpes zoster 
Ophthalmic herpes zoster is a common ocular infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Viral mRNA transcripts play a major role in the replicative cycle of the virus and current antiviral agents have little effect in preventing and treating the complications. Therapeutic use of saliva for certain painful ocular diseases such as ophthalmic herpes zoster is a well-known public practice in our region. We thought that antiviral activity of saliva may stem from salivary microvesicles and we aimed to look for molecules with antiviral activity in these vesicles. As a possible candidate for antiviral activity, salivary microvesicles contain at least 20 microRNAs (miRNAs), small noncoding RNAs, which suppress the translation of target mRNAs. miRNAs not only participate in maintenance of normal cell functions, but are also involved in host–virus interactions and limit the replication of certain virus types. Thus, miRNA gene therapy by targeting mRNAs required for VZV survival may find a niche in the treatment of ophthalmic herpes zoster. But, how could salivary microvesicles reach into the corneal cells to demonstrate their antiviral activity. We suggest that human salivary microvesicles can be effective carriers of miRNA for corneal cells, because they contain a molecular machinery for vesicle trafficking and fusion allowing them to be endocytosed by target cells. After binding to the plasma membrane, microvesicles seem to enter into the corneal cells through the clathrin-mediated endocytosis. In the cytosol, human salivary miRNAs base-pair with specific viral mRNAs and inhibit their translation, thus limiting the replication of the virus.
PMCID: PMC3422169  PMID: 22676898
16.  Exosomes and Microvesicles: Identification and Targeting By Particle Size and Lipid Chemical Probes 
Exosomes and microvesicles are two classes of submicroscopic vesicle released by cells into the extracellular space. Collectively referred to as extracellular vesicles, these membrane containers facilitate important cell-cell communication by carrying a diverse array of signaling molecules, including nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids. Recently, the role of extracellular vesicle signaling in cancer progression has become a topic of significant interest. Methods to detect and target exosomes and microvesicles are needed to realize applications of extracellular vesicles as biomarkers and, perhaps, therapeutic targets. Detection of exosomes and microvesicles is a complex problem as they are both submicroscopic and of heterogeneous cellular origins. In this Minireview, we highlight the basic biology of extracellular vesicles, and address available biochemical and biophysical detection methods. Detectible characteristics described here include lipid and protein composition, and physical properties such as the vesicle membrane shape and diffusion coefficient. In particular, we propose that detection of exosome and microvesicle membrane curvature with lipid chemical probes that sense membrane shape is a distinctly promising method for identifying and targeting these vesicles.
PMCID: PMC4098878  PMID: 24740901
phospholipids; vesicles; membrane curvature; exosome; curvature sensing/binding peptide
17.  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
18.  P2X7 Receptor Regulation of Non-Classical Secretion from Immune Effector Cells 
Cellular microbiology  2012;14(11):1697-1706.
P2X7 receptors (P2X7R) are extracellular ATP-gated ion channels expressed in the immune effector cells that carry out critical protective responses during the early phases of microbial infection or acute tissue trauma. P2X7R-positive cells include monocytes, macrophages, dendritric cells, and T-cells. Given its presence in all host and pathogen cell types, ATP can be readily released into extracellular compartments at local sites of tissue damage and microbial invasion. Thus, extracellular ATP and its target receptors on host effector cells can be considered as additional elements of the innate immune system. In this regard, stimulation of P2X7R rapidly triggers a key step of the inflammatory response: induction of NLRP3/caspase-1 inflammasome signaling complexes that drive the proteolytic maturation and secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β(IL-1β) and interleukin-18 (IL-18). IL-1β(and IL-18) lacks a signal sequence for compartmentation within the Golgi and classical secretory vesicles and the proIL-1β precursor accumulates within the cytosol following translation on free ribosomes. Thus, ATP-induced accumulation of the mature IL-1β cytokine within extracellular compartments requires non-classical mechanisms of export from the cytosolic compartment. Five proposed mechanisms include: 1) exocytosis of secretory lysosomes that accumulate cytosolic IL-1β via undefined protein transporters; 2) release of membrane-delimited microvesicles derived from plasma membrane blebs formed by evaginations of the surface membrane that entrap cytosolic IL-β; 3) release of membrane-delimited exosomes secondary to the exocytosis of multivesicular bodies formed by invaginations of recycling endosomes that entrap cytosolic IL-β; 4) exocytosis of autophagosomes or autophagolysosomes that accumulate cytosolic IL-1β via entrapment during formation of the initial autophagic isolation membrane or omegasome; and 5) direct release of cytosolic IL-1β secondary to regulated cell death by pyroptosis or necroptosis. These mechanisms are not mutually exclusive and may represent engagement of parallel or intersecting membrane trafficking responses to P2X7 receptor activation.
PMCID: PMC3473166  PMID: 22882764
19.  Red blood cell vesiculation in hereditary hemolytic anemia 
Hereditary hemolytic anemia encompasses a heterogeneous group of anemias characterized by decreased red blood cell survival because of inherited membrane, enzyme, or hemoglobin disorders. Affected red blood cells are more fragile, less deformable, and more susceptible to shear stress and oxidative damage, and show increased vesiculation. Red blood cells, as essentially all cells, constitutively release phospholipid extracellular vesicles in vivo and in vitro in a process known as vesiculation. These extracellular vesicles comprise a heterogeneous group of vesicles of different sizes and intracellular origins. They are described in literature as exosomes if they originate from multi-vesicular bodies, or as microvesicles when formed by a one-step budding process directly from the plasma membrane. Extracellular vesicles contain a multitude of bioactive molecules that are implicated in intercellular communication and in different biological and pathophysiological processes. Mature red blood cells release in principle only microvesicles. In hereditary hemolytic anemias, the underlying molecular defect affects and determines red blood cell vesiculation, resulting in shedding microvesicles of different compositions and concentrations. Despite extensive research into red blood cell biochemistry and physiology, little is known about red cell deformability and vesiculation in hereditary hemolytic anemias, and the associated pathophysiological role is incompletely assessed. In this review, we discuss recent progress in understanding extracellular vesicles biology, with focus on red blood cell vesiculation. Also, we review recent scientific findings on the molecular defects of hereditary hemolytic anemias, and their correlation with red blood cell deformability and vesiculation. Integrating bio-analytical findings on abnormalities of red blood cells and their microvesicles will be critical for a better understanding of the pathophysiology of hereditary hemolytic anemias.
PMCID: PMC3862113  PMID: 24379786
microvesicle; red blood cell; hemolytic anemia; membrane disorder; enzyme disorder; hemoglobinopathy; erythrocyte
20.  Emerging Roles of Exosomes in Normal and Pathological Conditions: New Insights for Diagnosis and Therapeutic Applications 
From the time when they were first described in the 1970s by the group of Johnstone and Stahl, exosomes are a target of constant research. Exosomes belong to the family of nanovesicles which are of great interest for their many functions and potential for diagnosis and therapy in multiples diseases. Exosomes originate from the intraluminal vesicles of late endosomal compartments named multivesicular bodies and the fusion of these late endosomes with the cell membrane result in the release of the vesicles into the extracellular compartment. Moreover, their generation can be induced by many factors including extracellular stimuli, such as microbial attack and other stress conditions. The primary role attributed to exosomes was the removal of unnecessary proteins from the cells. Now, several studies have demonstrated that exosomes are involved in cell–cell communication, even though their biological function is not completely clear. The participation of exosomes in cancer is the field of microvesicle research that has expanded more over the last years. Evidence proving that exosomes derived from tumor-pulsed dendritic cells, neoplastic cells, and malignant effusions are able to present antigens to T-cells, has led to numerous studies using them as cell-free cancer vaccines. Because exosomes derive from all cell types, they contain proteins, lipids, and micro RNA capable of regulating a variety of target genes. Much research is being conducted, which focuses on the employment of these vesicles as biomarkers in the diagnosis of cancer in addition to innovative biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, and management of cardiovascular diseases. Interesting findings indicating the role of exosomes in the pathogenesis of several diseases have encouraged researchers to consider their therapeutic potential not only in oncology but also in the treatment of autoimmune syndromes and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, in addition to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, and toxoplasmosis as well as infections caused by prions or viruses such as HIV. The aim of this review is to disclose the emerging roles of exosomes in normal and pathological conditions and to discuss their potential therapeutic applications.
PMCID: PMC4418172  PMID: 25999947
exosomes; therapeutics; cancer; neurodegenerative disorders; infectious disease therapy; biomarkers; pharmacological
21.  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
22.  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
23.  Exosomes: vesicular carriers for intercellular communication in neurodegenerative disorders 
Cell and Tissue Research  2012;352(1):33-47.
The intercellular transfer of misfolded proteins has received increasing attention in various neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the aggregation of specific proteins, as observed in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. One hypothesis holds that intercellular dissemination of these aggregates within the central nervous system results in the seeded assembly of the cognate soluble protein in target cells, similar to that proposed for transmissible prion diseases. The molecular mechanisms underlying the intercellular transfer of these proteinaceous aggregates are poorly understood. Various transfer modes of misfolded proteins including continuous cell-cell contacts such as nanotubes, unconventional secretion or microvesicle/exosome-associated dissemination have been suggested. Cells can release proteins, lipids and nucleic acids by vesicular exocytosis pathways destined for horizontal transfer. Encapsulation into microvesicular/exosomal vehicles not only protects these molecules from degradation and dilution in the extracellular space but also facilitates delivery over large distances, e.g. within the blood flow or interstitial fluid. Specific surface ligands might allow the highly efficient and targeted uptake of these vesicles by recipient cells. In this review, we focus on the cell biology and function of neuronal microvesicles/exosomes and discuss the evidence for pathogenic intercellular protein transfer mediated by vesicular carriers.
PMCID: PMC3602607  PMID: 22610588
Exosomes; Dementia; Spreading; Transfer; Aggregopathy
24.  The Microvesicle Component of HIV-1 Inocula Modulates Dendritic Cell Infection and Maturation and Enhances Adhesion to and Activation of T Lymphocytes 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(10):e1003700.
HIV-1 is taken up by immature monocyte derived dendritic cells (iMDDCs) into tetraspanin rich caves from which the virus can either be transferred to T lymphocytes or enter into endosomes resulting in degradation. HIV-1 binding and fusion with the DC membrane results in low level de novo infection that can also be transferred to T lymphocytes at a later stage. We have previously reported that HIV-1 can induce partial maturation of iMDDCs at both stages of trafficking. Here we show that CD45+ microvesicles (MV) which contaminate purified HIV-1 inocula due to similar size and density, affect DC maturation, de novo HIV-1 infection and transfer to T lymphocytes. Comparing iMDDCs infected with CD45-depleted HIV-1BaL or matched non-depleted preparations, the presence of CD45+ MVs was shown to enhance DC maturation and ICAM-1 (CD54) expression, which is involved in DC∶T lymphocyte interactions, while restricting HIV-1 infection of MDDCs. Furthermore, in the DC culture HIV-1 infected (p24+) MDDCs were more mature than bystander cells. Depletion of MVs from the HIV-1 inoculum markedly inhibited DC∶T lymphocyte clustering and the induction of alloproliferation as well as limiting HIV-1 transfer from DCs to T lymphocytes. The effects of MV depletion on these functions were reversed by the re-addition of purified MVs from activated but not non-activated SUPT1.CCR5-CL.30 or primary T cells. Analysis of the protein complement of these MVs and of these HIV-1 inocula before and after MV depletion showed that Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs) and nef were the likely DC maturation candidates. Recombinant HSP90α and β and nef all induced DC maturation and ICAM-1 expression, greater when combined. These results suggest that MVs contaminating HIV-1 released from infected T lymphocytes may be biologically important, especially in enhancing T cell activation, during uptake by DCs in vitro and in vivo, particularly as MVs have been detected in the circulation of HIV-1 infected subjects.
Author Summary
Dendritic cells (DCs) are vital for immune recognition of pathogens as they capture, internalise, degrade and present foreign peptides to T lymphocytes. It is thought that HIV-1 hijacks the DCs functions, such as migration and maturation, to increase contact with the major target cell CD4+ T lymphocytes leading to dissemination throughout the body. Currently there is still some controversy over the ability of HIV-1 to infect and mature DCs, which may be due to differences in the inoculum used. Here we examined the effect of contaminating microvesicles (MVs) identified in HIV-1 preparations on HIV-1 modulation of DC function. We show that when MVs are present with HIV-1, the inoculum induces greater DC maturation and adhesion probably via cellular HSP90α and β and viral nef within the MVs. The functional consequences are reduced de novo replication of HIV-1 but increased clustering with T lymphocytes, resulting in increased T lymphocyte alloproliferation and HIV-1 transfer. As MVs are produced in HIV-1 susceptible cells and would be present in vivo due to HIV-1 induced cell death and hence are physiologically relevant, these results also indicate that MVs present in HIV-1 inocula should be considered when assessing HIV∶DC interactions.
PMCID: PMC3798598  PMID: 24204260
25.  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

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