Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 100, Issue 9, pp 3887–3892 | Cite as

Functions and importance of mycobacterial extracellular vesicles

  • G. Marcela RodriguezEmail author
  • Rafael Prados-Rosales


The release of cellular factors by means of extracellular vesicles (EVs) is conserved in archaea, bacteria, and eukaryotes. EVs are released by growing bacteria as part of their interaction with their environment and, for pathogenic bacteria, constitute an important component of their interactions with the host. While EVs released by gram-negative bacteria have been extensively studied, the vesicles released by thick cell wall microorganisms like mycobacteria were recognized only recently and are less well understood. Nonetheless, studies of mycobacterial EVs have already suggested roles in pathogenesis, opening exciting new avenues of research aimed at understanding their biogenesis and potential use in antitubercular strategies. In this minireview, we discuss the discovery of mycobacterial vesicles, the current understanding of their nature, content, regulation, and possible functions, as well as their potential therapeutic applications.


Mycobacterium Vesicles Siderophores Iron Lipoproteins Vaccines 



RP’s work discussed here was supported by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. GMR’s work discussed here was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant AI044856. The authors thank Erika Shor for help in manuscript preparation.

Compliance with ethical standards

All procedures with Mtb-infected animals conducted by the authors and mentioned in this review were approved by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine animal care and use committee.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Health Research Institute Center and New Jersey Medical School–Rutgers, The State University of New JerseyNewarkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA
  3. 3.Infectious Diseases ProgramCIC bioGUNEDerioSpain

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