Proteins bud from cells in small single-membraned vesicles (~50–250 nm) that have the same topology as the cell. Known variously as exosomes and microvesicles (EMVs), these extracellular organelles are enriched for specific proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids. EMV biogenesis plays critical roles in protein quality control and cell polarity, and, once released, EMVs can transmit signals and molecules to neighbouring cells via a non-viral pathway of intercellular vesicle traffic. In the present paper, we discuss the cis-acting targeting signals that target proteins to EMVs and mediate protein budding from the cell.

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