Intercellular transfer of GPRC5B via exosomes drives HGF-mediated outward growth

Sang Ho Kwon, Kathleen D. Liu, Keith E. Mostov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


How cells communicate during development and regeneration is a critical question. One mechanism of intercellular communication is via exosomes, extracellular vesicles that originate by the fusion of multivesicular endosomes with the plasma membrane [1-8]. To model exosome-based intercellular communication, we used Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cell cysts grown in 3D gels of extracellular matrix, which form tubules in response to hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). We report that GPRC5B, an orphan G protein coupled receptor, is in exosomes produced by HGF-treated cysts and released into the cyst lumen. Exosomal GPRC5B is taken up by nearby cells and together with HGF promotes extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) activation and tubulogenesis, even under conditions where tubulogenesis would otherwise not occur. Recovery from injury, such as acute kidney injury (AKI), often recapitulates developmental processes. Here, we show that GPRC5B is elevated in urinary exosomes from patients with AKI. Our results elucidate how GPRC5B is carried by exosomes and augments HGF-induced morphogenesis. The unexpected role of exosomes in transporting GPRC5B between cells during morphogenesis and the ability of GPRC5B to predict the disease state of AKI elucidate a novel mechanism for intercellular communication during development and repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-204
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 20 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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