Extracellular vesicles as a platform for membrane-associated therapeutic protein delivery

Membrane proteins are of great research interest, particularly because they are rich in targets for therapeutic application. The suitability of various membrane proteins as targets for therapeutic formulations, such as drugs or antibodies, has been studied in preclinical and clinical studies. For therapeutic application, however, a protein must be expressed and purified in as close to its native conformation as possible. This has proven difficult for membrane proteins, as their native conformation requires the association with an appropriate cellular membrane. One solution to this problem is to use extracellular vesicles as a display platform. Exosomes and microvesicles are membranous extracellular vesicles that are released from most cells. Their membranes may provide a favourable microenvironment for membrane proteins to take on their proper conformation, activity, and membrane distribution; moreover, membrane proteins can cluster into microdomains on the surface of extracellular vesicles following their biogenesis. Researchers from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology survey the state-of-the-art of extracellular vesicle (exosome and small-sized microvesicle)-based therapeutics, evaluate the current biological understanding of these formulations, and forecast the technical advances that will be needed to continue driving the development of membrane protein therapeutics.

Advantages of displaying membrane proteins on the surfaces of EVs

exosomes

When membrane proteins are embedded naturally or artificially in the phospholipid bilayer of the EV surface, they can have various physiological properties, as indicated.

Yang Y, Hong Y, Cho E, Kim GB, Kim IS. (2018) Extracellular vesicles as a platform for membrane-associated therapeutic protein delivery. J Extracell Vesicles 7(1):1440131. [article]

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