Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membrane surrounded structures released by cells in an evolutionally conserved manner. EVs are both heterogenous in size and nature. Exosomes, small EVs of 30-100 nm in diameter, are formed through inward budding of late endosomes/multivesicular bodies (MVBs) which then are released into the extracellular space once the MVB fuses with the plasma membrane. Another group of EVs, microvesicles, are formed through outward budding of the plasma membrane, creating larger EVs of 100-1000+ nm in size. On top of that, EV cargo and composition differs greatly. So far EVs have been found to contain proteins, DNA, mRNA, miRNA, lipids, and metabolites. Depending on the cell type and under what conditions, the EV cargo will vary greatly, adding new layers of complexity to an already complex system.
In our lab we are interested in the EV cargo of cancer cells, specifically under 3D conditions, as cells behave and produve EVs in a very different manner. Stay tuned for news!