Monday, 21 May 2018

Intelligent Communication Between Cells: Exosomes and Ectosomes

Exosomes (above) are extracellular vesicles that communicate with ectosomes. Image courtesy of miguelferig, Public Domain.

Joel Kontinen

Exosomes and ectosomes are tiny extracellular vesicles that all cells produce. Exosomes measure 50–150 nm and ectosomes 100–500 nm.

Previously, researchers assumed that both vesicles were remnants of dead cells, but a recent paper published in the journal Current Biology shows that they were wrong.

Exosomes and ectosomes can travel relatively long distances, and exosomes can deliver cargoes that include non-coding RNAs and DNA sequences to other cells.

Scientists are just beginning to learn about their function, but they already know that these vesicles

navigate through extracellular fluid for varying times and distances. Subsequently, they interact with recognized target cells and undergo fusion with endocytic or plasma membranes, followed by integration of vesicle membranes into their fusion membranes and discharge of luminal cargoes into the cytosol, resulting in changes to cellular physiology. After fusion, exosome/ectosome components can be reassembled in new vesicles that are then recycled to other cells, activating effector networks.”

Looks like a considerable infusion of intelligence is needed to bring this about. But, then, practically everything in our cells requires intelligence.

In other words, nothing about molecular machines makes sense without intelligent design.”

We also have two tiny postmen in our cells, i.e. dynein and kinesin, that carry cargo to specific addresses within cells.

Our cells are miniature cities running at 100 percent efficiency, and they produce 100,000 nanomachines per hour.


Meldolesi, Jacopo. 2018. Exosomes and Ectosomes in Intercellular Communication. Current Biology 28, R435–R444 (23 April).