Biogenesis and function of T cell-derived exosomes

Leandro N. Ventimiglia, Miguel A. Alonso*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Exosomes are a particular type of extracellular vesicle, characterized by their endosomal origin as intraluminal vesicles present in large endosomes with a multivesicular structure. After these endosomes fuse with the plasma membrane, exosomes are secreted into the extracellular space. The ability of exosomes to carry and selectively deliver bioactive molecules (e.g., lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids) confers on them the capacity to modulate the activity of receptor cells, even if these cells are located in distant tissues or organs. Since exosomal cargo depends on cell type, a detailed understanding of the mechanisms that regulate the biochemical composition of exosomes is fundamental to a comprehensive view of exosome function. Here, we review the latest advances concerning exosome function and biogenesis in T cells, with particular focus on the mechanism of protein sorting at multivesicular endosomes. Exosomes secreted by specific T-cell subsets can modulate the activity of immune cells, including other T-cell subsets. Ceramide, tetraspanins and MAL have been revealed to be important in exosome biogenesis by T cells. These molecules, therefore, constitute potential molecular targets for artificially modulating exosome production and, hence, the immune response for therapeutic purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number84
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Issue numberAUG
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2016


  • Condensed membranes
  • ESCRT complex
  • Exosomes
  • MAL protein
  • Multivesicular endosomes
  • Tetraspanins


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