The role of extracellular vesicles in neurodegenerative diseases

Extracellular vesicles (EV) are released by cells and include exosomes, microvesicles and microparticles. These vesicles have been shown to contain many proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases, including the prion protein (PrP), amyloid precursor protein (APP), Tau and α-synuclein. We are interested in investigating the mechanisms, of how these proteins are packaged into these vesicles and also how they transfer their contents between cells. In particular, we are interested in a class of EVs known as exosomes. This project will also investigate the role of modifiers in exosome biogenesis by altering their expression with RNAi, using a lentiviral delivery system in neuronal cells.

We are also using high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy to study the structure of exosomes isolated from neuronal cells and characterise their protein and RNA content using high throughput sequencing and proteomics techniques.