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Small GTPases. 2017 Oct 2;8(4):220-232. doi: 10.1080/21541248.2016.1215283. Epub 2016 Aug 5.

Biology and biogenesis of shed microvesicles.

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a Department of Biological Sciences , University of Notre Dame , Notre Dame , IN , USA.


The ability of cells to transmit bioactive molecules to recipient cells and the extracellular environment is a fundamental requirement for both normal physiology and disease pathogenesis. It has traditionally been thought that soluble factors released from cells were responsible for this cellular signaling but recent research has revealed a fundamental role for microvesicles in this process. Microvesicles are heterogeneous membrane-bound sacs that are shed from the surface of cells into the extracellular environment in a highly regulated process. They are shed following the selective incorporation of a host of molecular cargo including multiple types of proteins and nucleic acids. In addition to providing new insight into the etiology of complex human diseases, microvesicles also show great promise as a tool for advanced diagnosis and therapy as we move forward into a new age of personalized medicine. Here we review current status of the rapidly evolving field of microvesicle biology, highlighting critical regulatory roles for several small GTPases in the biology and biogenesis of shed microvesicles.


intercellular communication; microvesicles; small GTPases

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