Bacterial extracellular vesicles (BEVs) contribute to stress responses, quorum sensing, biofilm formation and interspecies and interkingdom communication. However, the factors that regulate their release and heterogeneity are not well understood. We set out to investigate these factors in the common gut commensal Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron by studying BEV release throughout their growth cycle. Utilising a range of methods, we demonstrate that vesicles released at different stages of growth have significantly different composition, with early vesicles enriched in specifically released outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) containing a larger proportion of lipoproteins, while late phase BEVs primarily contain lytic vesicles with enrichment of cytoplasmic proteins. Furthermore, we demonstrate that lipoproteins containing a negatively charged signal peptide are preferentially incorporated in OMVs. We use this observation to predict all Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron OMV enriched lipoproteins and analyse their function. Overall, our findings highlight the need to understand media composition and BEV release dynamics prior to functional characterisation and define the theoretical functional capacity of Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron OMVs.
- bacterial extracellular vesicles
- outer membrane vesicles