Extracellular Vesicle RNA: A Universal Mediator of Microbial Communication?

Trends Microbiol. 2018 May;26(5):401-410. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2018.02.009. Epub 2018 Mar 13.


Both extracellular RNAs and extracellular vesicles (EVs) have recently garnered attention as novel mediators of intercellular communication in eukaryotes and prokaryotes alike. EVs not only permit export of RNA, but also facilitate delivery and trans-kingdom exchange of these and other biomolecules, for instance between microbes and their hosts. In this Opinion article, we propose that EV-mediated export of RNA represents a universal mechanism for interkingdom and intrakingdom communication that is conserved among bacterial, archaeal, and eukaryotic microbes. We speculate how microbes might use EV RNA to influence target cell gene expression or manipulate host immune responses.

Keywords: OMV; RNA; TLR; extracellular vesicles; gene silencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / physiology
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Eukaryota / physiology
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Silencing
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Prokaryotic Cells / physiology
  • RNA / metabolism*


  • RNA