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Targeted delivery of lysosomal enzymes to the endocytic compartment in human cells using engineered extracellular vesicles.


Targeted delivery of lysosomal enzymes to the endocytic compartment of human cells represents a transformative technology for treating a large family of lysosomal storage diseases (LSDs). Gaucher disease is one of the most common types of LSDs caused by mutations to the lysosomal β-glucocerebrosidase (GBA). Here, we describe a genetic strategy to produce engineered exosomes loaded with GBA in two different spatial configurations for targeted delivery to the endocytic compartment of recipient cells. By fusing human GBA to an exosome-anchoring protein: vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein (VSVG), we demonstrate that the chimeric proteins were successfully integrated into exosomes which were secreted as extracellular vesicles (EVs) by producer cells. Isolation and molecular characterization of EVs confirmed that the fusion proteins were loaded onto exosomes without altering their surface markers, particle size or distribution. Further, enzyme-loaded exosomes/EVs added to cultured medium were taken up by recipient cells. Further, the endocytosed exosomes/EVs targeted to endocytic compartments exhibited a significant increase in GBA activity. Together, we have developed a novel method for targeting and delivery of lysosomal enzymes to their natural location: the endocytic compartment of recipient cells. Since exosomes/EVs have an intrinsic ability to cross the blood-brain-barrier, our technology may provide a new approach to treat severe types of LSDs, including Gaucher disease with neurological complications.

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