Exosomes are produced by cells to mediate intercellular communication, and have been shown to perpetuate diseases, including cancer. New tools are needed to understand exosome biology, detect exosomes from specific cell types in complex biological media, and to modify exosomes. Our data demonstrate a cellular pathway whereby membrane-bound scavenger receptor type B-1 (SR-B1) in parent cells becomes incorporated into exosomes. We tailored synthetic HDL-like nanoparticles (HDL NP), high-affinity ligands for SR-B1, to carry a fluorescently labeled phospholipid. Data show SR-B1-dependent transfer of the fluorescent phospholipid from HDL NPs to exosomes. Modified exosomes are stable in serum and can be directly detected using flow cytometry. As proof-of-concept, human serum exosomes were found to express SR-B1, and HDL NPs can be used to label and isolate them. Ultimately, we discovered a natural cellular pathway and nanoparticle-receptor pair that enables exosome modulation, detection, and isolation.
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