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J Immunol. 2001 Jun 15;166(12):7309-18.

Proteomic analysis of dendritic cell-derived exosomes: a secreted subcellular compartment distinct from apoptotic vesicles.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médical, Unité 520, Institut Curie, Paris, France. clotilde.thery@curie.fr


Dendritic cells constitutively secrete a population of small (50-90 nm diameter) Ag-presenting vesicles called exosomes. When sensitized with tumor antigenic peptides, dendritic cells produce exosomes, which stimulate anti-tumor immune responses and the rejection of established tumors in mice. Using a systematic proteomic approach, we establish the first extensive protein map of a particular exosome population; 21 new exosomal proteins were thus identified. Most proteins present in exosomes are related to endocytic compartments. New exosomal residents include cytosolic proteins most likely involved in exosome biogenesis and function, mainly cytoskeleton-related (cofilin, profilin I, and elongation factor 1alpha) and intracellular membrane transport and signaling factors (such as several annexins, rab 7 and 11, rap1B, and syntenin). Importantly, we also identified a novel category of exosomal proteins related to apoptosis: thioredoxin peroxidase II, Alix, 14-3-3, and galectin-3. These findings led us to analyze possible structural relationships between exosomes and microvesicles released by apoptotic cells. We show that although they both represent secreted populations of membrane vesicles relevant to immune responses, exosomes and apoptotic vesicles are biochemically and morphologically distinct. Therefore, in addition to cytokines, dendritic cells produce a specific population of membrane vesicles, exosomes, with unique molecular composition and strong immunostimulating properties.

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