Exosomes and Microvesicles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Exosomes and microvesicles (EMVs) are secreted organelles that have the same topology as the cell and a diameter of ~50-250. nm. EMVs contain a wide variety of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and RNAs. Although exosomes are assumed to arise via multivesicular body (MVB)-like structures, many cells target exosomal proteins and lipids to discrete domains of the plasma membrane that serve as sites of exosome budding. Furthermore, it is now known that (1) the budding of EMV proteins requires their targeting to the plasma membrane, (2) targeting EMV proteins to endosome membranes does induce their budding, and (3) inhibiting MVB biogenesis does not inhibit exosome release. Based on these and other observations, it appears that the plasma membrane is a major site of exosome biogenesis, perhaps even more than endosomes. Cells manufacture EMVs to facilitate protein quality control at the plasma membrane, and to assist in the development of cell polarity. In addition, free EMVs can transmit signals to neighboring cells, and in some instances they complete a pathway of intercellular vesicle traffic, delivering proteins and RNAs from cell to cell. EMVs have been implicated in several physiological processes, particularly during immune signaling, and in multiple diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS and cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Biological Chemistry
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages3
ISBN (Electronic)9780123786319
ISBN (Print)9780123786302
StatePublished - Feb 15 2013


  • AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Endosomes
  • Exosomes
  • HIV
  • Microvesicle
  • MiRNA
  • Multivesicular body
  • MVB
  • Prion
  • Protein quality control
  • Retrovirus
  • Virus budding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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