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J Proteomics. 2016 Mar 16;136:25-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2016.02.001. Epub 2016 Feb 2.

Human urinary exosome proteome unveils its aerobic respiratory ability.

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Division of Nephrology, Dialysis, and Transplantation and Laboratory on Pathophysiology of Uremia, Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Genoa, Italy.
Dipartimento di Farmacia, Laboratorio di Biochimica, Università di Genova, Genoa, Italy.
Laboratory of Mass Spectrometry - Core Facilities, Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Genova, Italy.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Genoa, Italy.
Dipartimento di Farmacia, Laboratorio di Biochimica, Università di Genova, Genoa, Italy. Electronic address:


Exosomes are 40-100-nm vesicles released by most cell types after fusion of multivesicular endosomes with the plasma membrane. Exosomes, ubiquitary in body fluids including urines, contain proteins and RNA species specific of the tissue of origin. Exosomes from urine have been extensively studied as a promising reservoir for disease biomarkers. Here, we report the proteome analysis of urinary exosomes compared to urinoma, studied by Orbitrap mass spectrometry. A discovery approach was utilized on the sample. 3429 proteins were present, with minimal overlapping among exosome and urinoma. 959 proteins (28%) in exosome and 1478 proteins (43%) in urinoma were exclusively present in only one group. By cytoscape analysis, the biological process gene ontology was correlated to their probability (P ≤ 0.05) to be functional. This was never studied before and showed a significant clustering around metabolic functions, in particular to aerobic ATP production. Urinary exosomes carry out oxidative phosphorylation, being able to synthesize ATP and consume oxygen. A previously unsuspected function emerges for human urinary exosomes as bioactive vesicles that consume oxygen to aerobically synthesize ATP. Determination of normal human urine proteome can help generate the healthy urinary protein database for comparison, useful for various renal diseases.


The findings reported represent a significant advance in the understanding of the healthy human urinary proteome. The methodology utilized to analyze the collection of proteomic data allowed the assessment of the unique composition of urinary exosomes with respect to urinoma and to elucidate the presence in the former of molecular pathways previously unknown. The paper has the potential to impact its field of research, due to the biological relevance of the metabolic capacity of urinary exosomes, which may represent their important general feature.


Exosomes; F(o)F(1)-ATP synthase; Mass spectrometry; Oxidative phosphorylation; Proteomics; Respiratory complexes; Urinoma

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