Extracellular vesicle formation in Euryarchaeota is driven by a small GTPase

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2024 Mar 5;121(10):e2311321121. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2311321121. Epub 2024 Feb 26.


Since their discovery, extracellular vesicles (EVs) have changed our view on how organisms interact with their extracellular world. EVs are able to traffic a diverse array of molecules across different species and even domains, facilitating numerous functions. In this study, we investigate EV production in Euryarchaeota, using the model organism Haloferax volcanii. We uncover that EVs enclose RNA, with specific transcripts preferentially enriched, including those with regulatory potential, and conclude that EVs can act as an RNA communication system between haloarchaea. We demonstrate the key role of an EV-associated small GTPase for EV formation in H. volcanii that is also present across other diverse evolutionary branches of Archaea. We propose the name, ArvA, for the identified family of archaeal vesiculating GTPases. Additionally, we show that two genes in the same operon with arvA (arvB and arvC) are also involved in EV formation. Both, arvB and arvC, are closely associated with arvA in the majority of other archaea encoding ArvA. Our work demonstrates that small GTPases involved in membrane deformation and vesiculation, ubiquitous in Eukaryotes, are also present in Archaea and are widely distributed across diverse archaeal phyla.

Keywords: Archaea; Haloferax volcanii; extracellular vesicles; small GTPase; small RNAs.

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / genetics
  • Euryarchaeota* / genetics
  • Extracellular Vesicles* / genetics
  • Haloferax volcanii* / genetics
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins*
  • RNA


  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins
  • RNA