Assets of the non-pathogenic microorganism Dictyostelium discoideum as a model for the study of eukaryotic extracellular vesicles

  • Tatischeff I
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Dictyostelium discoideum microvesicles have recently been presented as a valuable model for eukaryotic extracellular vesicles. Here, the advantages of D. discoideum for unraveling important biological functions of extracellular vesicles in general are detailed. D. discoideum, a non-pathogenic eukaryotic microorganism, belongs to a billion-year-old Amoeboza lineage, which diverged from the animal-fungal lineage after the plant animal-split. During growth and early starvation-induced development, it presents analogies with lymphocytes and macrophages with regard to motility and phagocytosis capability, respectively. Its 6-chromosome genome codes for about 12,500 genes, some showing analogies with human genes. The presence of extracellular vesicles during cell growth has been evidenced as a detoxification mechanism of various structurally unrelated drugs. Controls led to the discovery of constitutive extracellular vesicle secretion in this microorganism, which was an important point. It means that the secretion of extracellular vesicles occurs, in the absence of any drug, during both cell growth and early development. This constitutive secretion of D. discoideum cells is very likely to play a role in intercellular communication. The detoxifying secreted vesicles, which can transport drugs outside the cells, can also act as "Trojan horses", capable of transferring these drugs not only into naïve D. discoideum cells, but into human cells as well. Therefore, these extracellular vesicles were proposed as a new biological drug delivery tool. Moreover, Dictyostelium , chosen by the NIH (USA) as a new model organism for biomedical research, has already been used for studying some human diseases. These cells, which are much easier to manipulate than human cells, can be easily designed in simple conditioned medium experiments. Owing to the increasing consensus that extracellular vesicles are probably important mediators of intercellular communication, D. discoideum is here suggested to constitute a convenient model for tracking as yet unknown biological functions of eukaryotic extracellular vesicles.




Tatischeff, I. (2013). Assets of the non-pathogenic microorganism Dictyostelium discoideum as a model for the study of eukaryotic extracellular vesicles. F1000Research, 2, 73.

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