The release of extracellular vesicles such as exosomes provides an attractive intercellular communication pathway. Exosomes are 30- to 150-nm membrane vesicles that are generated in endosomal compartment and act as intercellular mediators in both physiological and pathological context. Despite the growing interest in exosome functions, the mechanisms responsible for their biogenesis and secretion are still not completely understood. Knowledge about these mechanisms is important because they control the composition, and hence the function and secretion, of exosomes. Exosomes are produced as intraluminal vesicles in extremely dynamic endosomal organelles, which undergo various maturation processes in order to form multivesicular endosomes. Notably, the function of multivesicular endosomes is balanced between exosome secretion and lysosomal degradation. In the present review, we present and discuss each intracellular trafficking pathway that has been reported or proposed as regulating exosome biogenesis, with a particular focus on the importance of endosomal dynamics in sorting out cargo proteins to exosomes and to the secretion of multivesicular endosomes. An overall picture reveals several key mechanisms, which mainly act at the crossroads of endosomal pathways as regulatory checkpoints of exosome biogenesis.

You do not currently have access to this content.