Human cytidine deaminases, including APOBEC3G (A3G) and A3F, are part of a cellular defense system against retroviruses and retroelements including non-LTR retrotransposons LINE-1 (L1) and Alu. Expression of cellular A3 proteins is sufficient for inhibition of L1 and Alu retrotransposition, but the effect of A3 proteins transferred in exosomes on retroelement mobilization is unknown. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that exosomes secreted by CD4+H9 T cells and mature monocyte-derived dendritic cells encapsidate A3G and A3F and inhibit L1 and Alu retrotransposition. A3G is the major contributor to the inhibitory activity of exosomes, however, the contribution of A3F in H9 exosomes cannot be excluded. Additionally, we show that exosomes encapsidate mRNAs coding for A3 proteins. A3G mRNA, and less so A3F, was enriched in exosomes secreted by H9 cells. Exosomal A3G mRNA was functional in vitro. Whether exosomes inhibit retrotransposons in vivo requires further investigation.
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