Extracellular-Vesicle and Viral Fusion

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are essential and evolutionarily conserved mediators of cell-to-cell communication that were implicated in many pathologies. However, it remains unclear how the luminal cargo of EVs reaches the cytoplasm. We addressed this question by benchmarking an in vitro system to probe EV membrane fusion with large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs)1. We show that EVs fuse in a manner that is highly reminiscent of viral fusion. Moreover, we visualized EV-LUV fusion at high resolution for the first time using 3D cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). These studies set the foundations for a more in-depth investigation and identification of the molecular components mediating EV fusion.