Researchers at the University of Colorado, Denver have developed a method for conjugation of ligands to the surface of exosomes using click chemistry. Copper-catalyzed azide alkyne cycloaddition (click chemistry) is ideal for biocojugation of small molecules and macromolecules to the surface of exosomes, due to fast reaction times, high specificity, and compatibility in aqueous buffers. Exosomes cross-linked with alkyne groups using carbodiimide chemistry were conjugated to a model azide, azide-fluor 545. Conjugation had no effect on the size of exosomes nor was there any change in the extent of exosome adherence/internalization with recipient cells, suggesting the reaction conditions were mild on exosome structure and function.
The researchers further investigated the extent of exosomal protein modification with alkyne groups. Using liposomes with surface alkyne groups of a similar size and concentration to exosomes, they estimated that approximately 1.5 alkyne groups were present for every 150 kDa of exosomal protein.