Exosomes: mediators of communication in eukaryotes
In addition to the established mechanisms of intercellular signaling, a new way of communication has gained much attention in the last decade: communication mediated by exosomes. Exosomes are nanovesicles (with a diameter of 40-120 nm) secreted into the extracellular space by the multivesicular endosome after its outer membrane fuses with the plasma membrane. Once released, exosomes modulate the response of the recipient cells that recognize them. This indicates that exosomes operate in a specific manner and participate in the regulation of the target cell. Remarkably, exosomes occur from unicellular organisms to mammals, suggesting an evolutionarily conserved mechanism of communication. In this review we describe the cascade of exosome formation, intracellular traffic, secretion, and internalization by recipient cells, and review their most relevant effects. We also highlight important steps that are still poorly understood.