Through the wall: extracellular vesicles in Gram-positive bacteria, mycobacteria and fungi

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2015 Oct;13(10):620-30. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3480. Epub 2015 Sep 1.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are produced by all domains of life. In Gram-negative bacteria, EVs are produced by the pinching off of the outer membrane; however, how EVs escape the thick cell walls of Gram-positive bacteria, mycobacteria and fungi is still unknown. Nonetheless, EVs have been described in a variety of cell-walled organisms, including Staphylococcus aureus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Cryptococcus neoformans. These EVs contain varied cargo, including nucleic acids, toxins, lipoproteins and enzymes, and have important roles in microbial physiology and pathogenesis. In this Review, we describe the current status of vesiculogenesis research in thick-walled microorganisms and discuss the cargo and functions associated with EVs in these species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Extracellular Vesicles / physiology*
  • Fungi / pathogenicity
  • Fungi / physiology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / physiology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / physiology
  • Mycobacterium / pathogenicity
  • Mycobacterium / physiology*