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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17(2), 171; doi:10.3390/ijms17020171

Focus on Extracellular Vesicles: Physiological Role and Signalling Properties of Extracellular Membrane Vesicles

1
Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Stem Cell Institute, Clifford Allbutt Building—Cambridge Biosciences Campus, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, and NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, University of Cambridge, Hills Road CB2 0PY, UK
2
EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton CB10 1SD, UK
These authors contributed equally.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 August 2015 / Accepted: 24 September 2015 / Published: 6 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Focus on Extracellular Vesicles)
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Abstract

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a heterogeneous population of secreted membrane vesicles, with distinct biogenesis routes, biophysical properties and different functions both in physiological conditions and in disease. The release of EVs is a widespread biological process, which is conserved across species. In recent years, numerous studies have demonstrated that several bioactive molecules are trafficked with(in) EVs, such as microRNAs, mRNAs, proteins and lipids. The understanding of their final impact on the biology of specific target cells remains matter of intense debate in the field. Also, EVs have attracted great interest as potential novel cell-free therapeutics. Here we describe the proposed physiological and pathological functions of EVs, with a particular focus on their molecular content. Also, we discuss the advances in the knowledge of the mechanisms regulating the secretion of EV-associated molecules and the specific pathways activated upon interaction with the target cell, highlighting the role of EVs in the context of the immune system and as mediators of the intercellular signalling in the brain. View Full-Text
Keywords: extracellular vesicles; exosomes; signalling pathway; trafficking; intercellular communication; neuroscience; drug delivery; extracellular RNAs extracellular vesicles; exosomes; signalling pathway; trafficking; intercellular communication; neuroscience; drug delivery; extracellular RNAs
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Iraci, N.; Leonardi, T.; Gessler, F.; Vega, B.; Pluchino, S. Focus on Extracellular Vesicles: Physiological Role and Signalling Properties of Extracellular Membrane Vesicles. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17, 171.

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