Functional transferred DNA within extracellular vesicles

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small membrane vesicles including exosomes and shedding vesicles that mediated a cell-to-cell communication. EVs are released from almost all cell types under both physiological and pathological conditions and incorporate nuclear and cytoplasmic molecules for intercellular delivery. Besides protein, mRNA, and microRNA of these molecules, as recent studies show, specific DNA are prominently packaged into EVs. It appears likely that some of exosomes or shedding vesicles, bearing nuclear molecules are released upon bubble-like blebs. Specific interaction of EVs with susceptible recipients performs the uptake of EVs into the target cells, discharging their cargo including nuclear and cytoplasmic macromolecules into the cytosol. These findings expand the nucleic acid content of EVs to include increased levels of specific DNA. Thus, EVs contain a repertoire of genetic information available for horizontal gene transfer and potential use as blood biomarkers for cancer and atherosclerosis.

The horizontal transfer of extracellular DNA between cells


The genomic DNA are packaged into EVs, and then the DNA-containing EVs are secreted from the maternal cell and exist stably in the extracellular fluid. Further, DNA in EVs (e.g. AT1 gene) could be transferred into the recipient cells and localize to and inside the nuclear membrane. More importantly, endogenous transcript factor (e.g. NF-κβ) could be recruited to the transferred gene in the nucleus, and increase the transcription of the gene in the recipient cells.

Cai J, Wu G, Jose PA, Zeng C. (2016) Functional transferred DNA within extracellular vesicles. Exp Cell Res [Epub ahead of print] [abstract]

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