Intercellular communication is an essential process for survival and activities of biological organisms. Indeed, dysregulation of intercellular communication leads to several diseases. Cells release various molecules to the extracellular milieu to conduct intercellular communication. Conventionally, it has been accepted that soluble molecules, such as growth factors and cytokines, play key roles in the communication.


However, cells also secrete extracellular vesicles (EVs), to communicate with each other and their surroundings. EVs are spherical proteolipids with an average diameter of 20250 nm and enriched with various bioactive materials. Secretion of EVs is an evolutionarily conserved phenomenon among three domains (eukarya, bacteria, and archaea).


The research of Professor Gho’s group comprises of three main parts:

1. Systemic database construction of EV components

2. Study of EV functions in vitro and in vivo

3. Elucidation of EV biogenesis mechanisms


EVs are composed of various kinds of proteins, lipids, and genetic materials (DNA and/or RNA). Therefore, identification of EV components is a prerequisite of understanding EV function and biogenesis mechanisms. To this end, Professor Gho’s group tries to construct databases of EV components.


EVs are composed of diverse molecules and are secreted by various cell types, including immune, neural, tumor and stem cells. Therefore, it could be readily inferred that EVs might play many different functions. However, the physiological roles of EVs are generally unclear. Professor Gho’s group studies EV functions in vitro and in vivo. Such studies might help to understand various biological phenomena, including cancer, which could not be explained fully by soluble intercellular communicating molecules and intracellular communication.


EVs could be classified by their biogenesis mechanism: exosome, which are formed inside the multivesicular endosomes (MVEs) of the secreting cells and released by fusion of MVEs and plasma membrane; microvesicles, which are formed by blebbing and/or shedding from the plasma membrane. However, factors which promote or inhibit EV biogenesis are largely unknown. Professor Gho’s group tries to elucidate EV biogenesis mechanisms and modulate EV biogenesis. Together with studies of EV functions, elucidation of EV biogenesis mechanisms might help to develop novel diagnostics and identify novel targets involved in the pathogenesis of various diseases.


“The systemic studies on EVs are critical for understanding the intercellular communication network that is essential for decoding the secrets of life and elucidating the exact causes of many diseases.”, says Professor Gho.

Copyright 2006 (c) Lab. of Intercellular Communication Network,
Deptartment of Life Science, POSTECH San 31 Hyojadong, Pohang, Kyoungbuk, 790-784, Republic of Korea
Tel: 82-54-279-8611
Fax: 82-54-279-8609
E.mail: dkfma@postech.ac.kr
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