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Extracellular vesicles in motion

Journal article
Authors Aleksander Cvjetkovic
Rossella Crescitelli
Cecilia Lässer
Davide Zabeo
Per O Widlund
Thomas Nyström
Johanna L Höög
Jan Lötvall
Published in Science Matters
ISSN 2297-8240
Publication year 2017
Published at Krefting Research Centre
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Language en
Subject categories Cell and Molecular Biology, Cell Biology


By secreting extracellular vesicles (EVs), including exosomes and microvesicles, into the extracellular milieu, cells can convey complex biological messages between each other. These vesicles are generally thought to be static packages lacking the flexibility of their parental cells in terms of motility and the ability to change shape. However, cryo-electron micrographs reveal the presence of actin-like filaments in a subpopulation of EVs, raising the question if these vesicles could possess motile capabilities similar to that produced by actin in cells. We here show that fluorescently labeled EVs change their shape in a matter of minutes, regardless of whether they are isolated from human body fluids, mouse tissue or cell culture of human cells or yeast. Our findings therefore cast doubt on movement being confined to cells, suggesting that some EVs indeed have an intrinsic capacity to move. This novel observation showing morphological plasticity among EVs adds another level of complexity to the already multifaceted vesicular secretome, and may lead to new ways in which we perceive these nano-carriers of intercellular signals.

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