Isolating Exosomes on OBU's Campus

Date of Award


Document Type




First Reader

Dr. Nathan Reyna

Second Reader

Dr. Jim Taylor

Third Reader

Dr. Barbara Pemberton


Exosomes are membranous extracellular vesicles that originate from the budding of endosomal compartments within a cell. These vesicles were discovered in 1983 and, since then, it has been shown that exosomes play a large role in physiology and disease (Harding, Clifford V., et al 2004). This early discovery has been recognized over the following three decades by an explosive growth in the field of exosome research and biology, resulting in the formation of various societies (International Society for Extracellular Vesicles and The American Society for Exosomes and Microvesicles) and even a dedicated journal (Journal of Extracellular Vesicles), plus numerous international meetings and well over a thousand publications on exosomes, to date (Harding, Clifford V., et al 2004). At the point of discovery, researchers noticed that transferrin receptors were jutted out from maturing blood reticulocytes in the extracellular space (Harding, Clifford V., et al 2004). The mechanism of the receptor release eluded the researchers until the previously mentioned "explosion" of research. It was found that these vesicles are transported to the plasma membrane through the vesicular system that then fuses with the plasma membrane to release its contents to the environment (Lane, Rebecca E., et al). This is similar to normal exocytosis except the contents within these vesicles are also membrane bound vesicles. Instead of simply releasing contents into the extracellular space, the exosomes keep the contents within a membrane to allow for further transport. The contents within the exosomes can include mRNA, miRNA, and proteins from the cell of its origin. Since exosomes contain these micro-molecules, it has been implicated that they have a large role in cell-to-cell communications (Lane, Rebecca E., et al 2015). Research into the role of these micro-vesicles' hand in disease transduction has taken the forefront in the journey to better understand the exact purpose of exosomes. It is also the main goal behind the research that has been started at OBU under the Exosome Project.

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