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J Biol Chem. 2011 Apr 22;286(16):14383-95. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.208660. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Protein targeting to exosomes/microvesicles by plasma membrane anchors.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Animal cells secrete small vesicles, otherwise known as exosomes and microvesicles (EMVs). A short, N-terminal acylation tag can target a highly oligomeric cytoplasmic protein, TyA, into secreted vesicles (Fang, Y., Wu, N., Gan, X., Yan, W., Morell, J. C., and Gould, S. J. (2007) PLoS Biol. 5, 1267-1283). However, it is not clear whether this is true for other membrane anchors or other highly oligomeric, cytoplasmic proteins. We show here that a variety of plasma membrane anchors can target TyA-GFP to sites of vesicle budding and into EMVs, including: (i) a myristoylation tag; (ii) a phosphatidylinositol-(4,5)-bisphosphate (PIP(2))-binding domain; (iii), a phosphatidylinositol-(3,4,5)-trisphosphate-binding domain; (iv) a prenylation/palmitoylation tag, and (v) a type-1 plasma membrane protein, CD43. However, the relative budding efficiency induced by these plasma membrane anchors varied over a 10-fold range, from 100% of control (AcylTyA-GFP) for the myristoylation tag and PIP(2)-binding domain, to one-third or less for the others, respectively. Targeting TyA-GFP to endosome membranes by fusion to a phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate-binding domain induced only a slight budding of TyA-GFP, ∼2% of control, and no budding was observed when TyA-GFP was targeted to Golgi membranes via a phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate-binding domain. We also found that a plasma membrane anchor can target two other highly oligomeric, cytoplasmic proteins to EMVs. These observations support the hypothesis that plasma membrane anchors can target highly oligomeric, cytoplasmic proteins to EMVs. Our data also provide additional parallels between EMV biogenesis and retrovirus budding, as the anchors that induced the greatest budding of TyA-GFP are the same as those that mediate retrovirus budding.

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