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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;777:41-54. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-5894-4_3.

Prominin-1-containing membrane vesicles: origins, formation, and utility.

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Department of Cellular Neurology, Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, Otfried-Müller-Str. 27, 72076, Tübingen, Germany,


The stem cell antigen prominin-1 (CD133) is associated with two major types (small and large) of extracellular membrane vesicles in addition to its selective concentration in various kinds of plasma membrane protrusion. During development of the mammalian central nervous system, differentiating neuroepithelial stem cells release these vesicles into the embryonic cerebrospinal fluid. In glioblastoma patients, an increase of such vesicles, particularly the smaller ones, have been also observed in cerebrospinal fluid. Similarly, hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells release small ones concomitantly with their differentiation. Although the functional significance of these prominin-1-containing membrane vesicles is poorly understood, a link between differentiation of stem (and cancer stem) cells and their release is emerging. In this chapter, I will summarize our knowledge about prominin-1-containing membrane vesicles including a potential role in cell-cell communication and highlight their prospective value as a new biomarker for tumorigenesis diagnostics.

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