Ceramide Triggers Budding of Exosome Vesicles Into Multivesicular Endosomes

Science. 2008 Feb 29;319(5867):1244-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1153124.


Intraluminal vesicles of multivesicular endosomes are either sorted for cargo degradation into lysosomes or secreted as exosomes into the extracellular milieu. The mechanisms underlying the sorting of membrane into the different populations of intraluminal vesicles are unknown. Here, we find that cargo is segregated into distinct subdomains on the endosomal membrane and that the transfer of exosome-associated domains into the lumen of the endosome did not depend on the function of the ESCRT (endosomal sorting complex required for transport) machinery, but required the sphingolipid ceramide. Purified exosomes were enriched in ceramide, and the release of exosomes was reduced after the inhibition of neutral sphingomyelinases. These results establish a pathway in intraendosomal membrane transport and exosome formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Ceramides / analysis
  • Ceramides / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / chemistry
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / ultrastructure
  • Endosomes / metabolism*
  • Endosomes / ultrastructure
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Membranes / ultrastructure
  • Membrane Microdomains / metabolism*
  • Membrane Microdomains / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Myelin Proteolipid Protein / metabolism*
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / ultrastructure
  • Protein Transport
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase / metabolism


  • Ceramides
  • Myelin Proteolipid Protein
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase