Exosomal trafficking in Xenopus development

Michael Danilchik, Tess Tumarkin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Exosomes are small extracellular vesicles (EVs) secreted by many cell types in both normal and pathogenic circumstances. Because EVs, particularly exosomes, are known to transfer biologically active proteins, RNAs and lipids between cells, they have recently become the focus of intense interest as potential mediators of cell-cell communication, particularly in long-range and juxtacrine signaling events associated with adaptive immune function and progression of cancer. Among the EVs, exosomes appear particularly adapted for long-range delivery of cargoes between cells. Because of their association with disease states, the exciting potential for exosomes to serve as diagnostic biomarkers and as target-specific biomolecule delivery vehicles has stimulated a broad range of biomedical investigations to learn how exosomes are generated, what their cargoes are, and how they might be tailored for uptake by remote targets. Addressing these questions requires experimental models in which biochemically useful amounts of material can be harvested, gene expression easily manipulated, and interpretable biological assays developed. The early Xenopus embryo fulfills these model-system ideals in an in vivo context: during morphogenesis the embryo develops several large, fluid-filled extracellular compartments across which numerous tissue-specifying signals must cross, and which are abundantly endowed with exosomes and other EVs. Importantly, certain surface-facing tissues avidly ingest EVs during gastrulation. Recent work has demonstrated that EVs can be isolated from these interstitial spaces in amounts suitable for proteomic and transcriptomic analysis. With its large numbers, great cell size, well-understood fate map, and tolerance of a variety of experimental approaches, the Xenopus embryo provides a unique opportunity to both understand and manipulate the basic cell biology of exosomal trafficking in the context of an intact organism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere23011
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • amphibian
  • early development organism
  • gastrulation process
  • patterning process
  • process
  • signaling process

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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