Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 130, Issue 3, pp 479–483 | Cite as

Exosomes versus microexosomes: Shared components but distinct functions

  • Kenji MiyadoEmail author
  • Woojin Kang
  • Kenji Yamatoya
  • Maito Hanai
  • Akihiro Nakamura
  • Toshiyuki Mori
  • Mami Miyado
  • Natsuko KawanoEmail author
JPR Symposium Fusion in Fertilization: Interdisciplinary Collaboration among Plant and Animal Scientists


In multicellular organisms, cellular components are constantly translocated within cells and are also transported exclusively between limited cells, regardless of their physical distance. Exosomes function as one of the key mediators of intercellular transportation. External vesicles were identified 50 years ago in plants and now reconsidered to be exosome-like vesicles. Meanwhile, a well-known exosomal component, tetraspanin CD9, regulates sperm–egg fusion in mammals. A number of Arabidopsis tetraspanins are also expressed in reproductive tissues at fertilization, and are localized at the plasma membrane of protoplasts. Moreover, CD9-containing structures (or ‘microexosomes’) are released from mouse eggs during their maturation and promote the sperm–egg fusion. This phenomenon implies that two types of shared-component intercellular carriers might be released from multiple types of plant and animal cells, which widely regulate biological phenomena. We herein highlight their discrete structures, formation processes, and functions.


Exosome Microexosome Intercellular transportation Membrane fusion CD9 Tetraspanin 



This review was supported by a Grant-in-aid for Scientific Research from The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan (No. 26670733 and No. 26293363 to K. Miyado, and No. 26670732 to N. Kawano).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenji Miyado
    • 1
    Email author
  • Woojin Kang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kenji Yamatoya
    • 3
  • Maito Hanai
    • 4
  • Akihiro Nakamura
    • 1
    • 4
  • Toshiyuki Mori
    • 5
  • Mami Miyado
    • 6
  • Natsuko Kawano
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Reproductive BiologyNational Research Institute for Child Health and DevelopmentTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Perinatal Medicine and Maternal CareNational Center for Child Health and DevelopmentTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Applied Biological ScienceTokyo University of ScienceNodaJapan
  4. 4.Department of Life Sciences, School of AgricultureMeiji UniversityKawasakiJapan
  5. 5.Department of Tropical Medicine and ParasitologyJuntendo UniversityTokyoJapan
  6. 6.Department of Molecular EndocrinologyNational Research Institute for Child Health and DevelopmentTokyoJapan

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