Viruses enter host cells through interactions of viral ligands with cellular receptors. Viruses can also enter cells in a receptor-independent fashion. Mechanisms regarding the receptor-independent viral entry into cells have not been fully elucidated. Exosomal trafficking between cells may offer a mechanism by which viruses can enter cells.
To investigate the role of exosomes on cellular viral entry, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham employed neural stem cell-derived exosomes and adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) for the proof-of-principle study. Exosomes significantly enhanced Ad5 entry in Coxsackie virus and adenovirus receptor (CAR)-deficient cells, in which Ad5 only had very limited entry. The exosomes were shown to contain T-cell immunoglobulin mucin protein 4 (TIM-4), which binds phosphatidylserine. Treatment with anti-TIM-4 antibody significantly blocked the exosome-mediated Ad5 entry.
Neural stem cell-derived exosomes mediated significant cellular entry of Ad5 in a receptor-independent fashion. This mediation may be hampered by an antibody specifically targeting TIM-4 on exosomes. This set of results will benefit further elucidation of virus/exosome pathways, which would contribute to reducing natural viral infection by developing therapeutic agents or vaccines.