Mycoplasmas are no exception to extracellular vesicles release: Revisiting old concepts

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Release of extracellular vesicles (EV) by Gram-negative and positive bacteria is being frequently reported. EV are nano-sized, membrane-derived, non-self-replicating, spherical structures shed into the extracellular environment that could play a role in bacteria-host interactions. Evidence of EV production in bacteria belonging to the class Mollicutes, which are wall-less, is mainly restricted to the genus Acholeplasma and is scanty for the Mycoplasma genus that comprises major human and animal pathogens. Here EV release by six Mycoplasma (sub)species of clinical importance was investigated. EV were obtained under nutritional stress conditions, purified by ultracentrifugation and observed by electron microscopy. The membrane proteins of EV from three different species were further identified by mass spectrometry as a preliminary approach to determining their potential role in host-pathogen interactions. EV were shown to be released by all six (sub)species although their quantities and sizes (30–220 nm) were very variable. EV purification was complicated by the minute size of viable mycoplasmal cells. The proteins of EV-membranes from three (sub)species included major components of host-pathogen interactions, suggesting that EV could contribute to make the host-pathogen interplay more complex. The process behind EV release has yet to be deciphered, although several observations demonstrated their active release from the plasma membrane of living cells. This work shed new light on old concepts of “elementary bodies” and “not-cell bound antigens”.




Gaurivaud, P., Ganter, S., Villard, A., Manso-Silvan, L., Chevret, D., Boulé, C., … Tardy, F. (2018). Mycoplasmas are no exception to extracellular vesicles release: Revisiting old concepts. PLoS ONE, 13(11).

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