PerspectiveMicrobiology

Extracellular vesicles in parasite survival

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Science  22 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6429, pp. 817-818
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau4666

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Summary

Parasites are all around us, and they are directly responsible for more than 1 million human deaths worldwide each year. These master manipulators use various strategies to alter the host environment to promote their own survival, while evading the host immune system. Mounting evidence indicates that parasites employ multipurpose extracellular vesicles (EVs) in cell-cell communication to persist within their host. These secreted vesicles are heterogeneous in terms of size (ranging between 30 and 500 nm in diameter), cell of origin, target destination, and content, suggesting that their functions are varied. Their cargo can contain a variety of bioactive molecules, including proteins, lipids, glycans, RNA, and DNA, which facilitate changes to target cells upon internalization.