Sensitive and rapid quantification of exosomes by fusing luciferase to exosome marker proteins

Sci Rep. 2018 Sep 19;8(1):14035. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-32535-7.


Exosomes have emerged as important mediators of intercellular communication. Although their modes of action have been elucidated, the molecular mechanisms underlying their secretion, sorting of molecules, uptake into recipient cells, and biological distribution in vivo remain elusive. Here, we present a novel system for quantifying secreted exosomes by introducing ectopic or CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knock-in of luciferase-fusion exosome markers such as CD63. This luciferase-based method makes it possible to measure exosomes secreted into the culture medium with high linearity and wide dynamic range in a high-throughput manner. We demonstrate that data obtained by luminescent quantification are well correlated with data obtained by conventional nanoparticle tracking analysis under multiple conditions. In addition, our system is capable of evaluating the recipient cells or tissues that take up exosomes, as well as visualizing exosomes in vivo. The proposed system represents a powerful tool for understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying exosome production, uptake, and long-term distribution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • A549 Cells
  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • Cell Line
  • Exosomes / chemistry
  • Exosomes / genetics*
  • HCT116 Cells
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Tetraspanin 30 / genetics*


  • CD63 protein, human
  • Tetraspanin 30