The ability to communicate is essential for all living cells. Modes of communication include direct cell-to-cell contact and release of extracellular vesicles (EVs). EVs are commonly classified according to their mode of biogenesis. Exosomes are small vesicles (50-200nm in diameter), formed inside multivesicular bodies and secreted independently of cell death. They carry cargo of proteins, lipids, metabolites and nucleic acids, and fuse with distal cells providing a secure and efficient mode for delivery of signals. Due to their stability, exosomes protect their cargo against degradation and denaturation in the extracellular environment.
In this new area of malaria research, little is currently known about the exosome cargo and the precise mechanism of exosome cargo loading, delivery and function. We aim to gain a better understanding on how the parasite sorts its cargo and releases it, as well as investigating its function as effector in the extracellular milieu (or in the recipient cell). The advanced-nano approaches developed in our lab not only yield significant information on one of the most lethal human pathogens, but will further lead to important advances in the field of exosome research more broadly.
On picture: SEM of Pf exosomes