Extracellular Vesicles and Membrane Protrusions in Developmental Signaling

Callie M. Gustafson, Laura S. Gammill

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


During embryonic development, cells communicate with each other to determine cell fate, guide migration, and shape morphogenesis. While the relevant secreted factors and their downstream target genes have been characterized extensively, how these signals travel between embryonic cells is still emerging. Evidence is accumulating that extracellular vesicles (EVs), which are well defined in cell culture and cancer, offer a crucial means of communication in embryos. Moreover, the release and/or reception of EVs is often facilitated by fine cellular protrusions, which have a history of study in development. However, due in part to the complexities of identifying fragile nanometer-scale extracellular structures within the three-dimensional embryonic environment, the nomenclature of developmental EVs and protrusions can be ambiguous, confounding progress. In this review, we provide a robust guide to categorizing these structures in order to enable comparisons between developmental systems and stages. Then, we discuss existing evidence supporting a role for EVs and fine cellular protrusions throughout development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number39
JournalJournal of Developmental Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a University of Minnesota Grant-in-Aid (Award 414022 to L.S.G.); National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (Project No.00074041 to C.M.G.); and the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research (T90 DE022732 to C.M.G. via the Minnesota Craniofacial Research Training Program).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • embryonic development
  • exosomes
  • extracellular vesicles
  • membrane protrusions
  • migrasomes


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