Herpesviruses hijack host exosomes for viral pathogenesis

exosomesHerpesviruses are remarkable pathogens possessing elaborate mechanisms to seize various host cellular components for immune evasion, replication, and virion egress. As viruses are dependent upon their hosts, investigating this intricate interplay has revealed that the exosome pathway is utilized by alpha (Herpes Simplex Virus 1), beta (Human Cytomegalovirus, and Human Herpesvirus 6) and gamma (Epstein-Barr Virus, and Kaposi Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus) herpesviruses. Virions and exosomes share similar properties and functions. For example, exosomes are small membranous nanovesicles (30-150nm) released from cells that contain proteins, DNA, and various coding and non-coding RNA species. Given exosomes can shuttle various molecular cargo from a donor to recipient cell, they serve as important vehicles facilitating cell-cell communication. Therefore, exploitation by herpesviruses impacts several aspects of infection including: i) acquisition of molecular machinery for secondary envelopment and viral assembly, ii) export of immune-related host proteins from infected cells, iii) enhancing infection in surrounding cells via transfer of viral proteins, mRNA and miRNA, and iv) regulation of viral protein expression to promote persistence. Studying the dichotomy that exists between host exosomes and herpesviruses has two benefits. Firstly, it will reveal the precise pathogenic mechanisms viruses have evolved, generating knowledge for antiviral development. Secondly, it will shed light upon fundamental exosome characteristics that remain unknown, including cargo selection, protein trafficking, and non-canonical biogenesis.

Sadeghipour S, Mathias RA. (2017) Herpesviruses hijack host exosomes for viral pathogenesis. Semin Cell Dev Biol S1084-9521(17)30179-9. [abstract]

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