Exosomes are a subtype of membrane-contained vesicles 40–200 nm in diameter that are secreted by cells into their surroundings. By transporting proteins, lipids, mRNA, miRNA, lncRNA, and DNA, exosomes are able to perform such vital functions as maintaining cellular homeostasis, removing cellular debris, and facilitating intercellular and interorgan communication. Exosomes travel in all body fluids and deliver their molecular messages in autocrine, paracrine as well as endocrine manners. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in studying exosomes as diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets, since in many disease conditions this machinery becomes dysregulated or hijacked by pathological processes. Additionally, delivery of exosomes and exosomal miRNA has already been shown to improve systemic metabolism and inhibit progression of cancer development in mice. However, the subcellular machinery of exosomes, including their biogenesis, release and uptake, remains largely unknown. Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine bring molecular details of these processes up to date with the goal of expanding the knowledge basis for designing impactful exosome experiments in the future.
Cargo sorting into exosomes
The known pathways of protein, RNA, and DNA sorting are depicted. Exosomal membrane proteins including tetraspanins, flotillin, integrins, MHCs, and ESCRT are labeled.