Multivesicular bodies (MVBs) are unique organelles in the endocytic pathway that contain vesicles in their lumen. Sorting and incorporation of material into such vesicles is a critical cellular process that has been intensely studied following discovery of the ESCRT (endosomal sorting complex required for transport) machinery just more than a decade ago. In this review, we summarize current understanding of the cellular functions of MVBs and how the ESCRT machinery contributes to MVB morphogenesis. We also highlight the importance of MVBs and ESCRTs in human health. We identify critical areas in which further mechanistic and spatiotemporal studies in living cells will advance this exciting area of research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-362
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - 2012


  • ESCRT machinery
  • cytokinesis
  • exosome
  • late endosome
  • membrane scission
  • viral budding


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