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Identification and proteomic profiling of exosomes in human urine.

Pisitkun T., Shen R.F., Knepper M.A.

Urine provides an alternative to blood plasma as a potential source of disease biomarkers. One urinary biomarker already exploited in clinical studies is aquaporin-2. However, it remains a mystery how aquaporin-2 (an integral membrane protein) and other apical transporters are delivered to the urine. Here we address the hypothesis that these proteins reach the urine through the secretion of exosomes [membrane vesicles that originate as internal vesicles of multivesicular bodies (MVBs)]. Low-density urinary membrane vesicles from normal human subjects were isolated by differential centrifugation. ImmunoGold electron microscopy using antibodies directed to cytoplasmic or anticytoplasmic epitopes revealed that the vesicles are oriented "cytoplasmic-side inward," consistent with the unique orientation of exosomes. The vesicles were small (<100 nm), consistent with studies of MVBs and exosomes from other tissues. Proteomic analysis of urinary vesicles through nanospray liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry identified numerous protein components of MVBs and of the endosomal pathway in general. Full liquid chromatography-tandem MS analysis revealed 295 proteins, including multiple protein products of genes already known to be responsible for renal and systemic diseases, including autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, Gitelman syndrome, Bartter syndrome, autosomal recessive syndrome of osteopetrosis with renal tubular acidosis, and familial renal hypomagnesemia. The results indicate that exosome isolation may provide an efficient first step in biomarker discovery in urine.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 101:13368-13373(2004) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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