Virus infection has drawn extensive attention since it causes serious or even deadly diseases, consequently inducing a series of social and public health problems. Caveolin-1 is the most important structural protein of caveolae, a membrane invagination widely known for its role in endocytosis and subsequent cytoplasmic transportation. Caveolae/caveolin-1 is tightly associated with a wide range of biological processes, including cholesterol homeostasis, cell mechano-sensing, tumorigenesis, and signal transduction. Intriguingly, the versatile roles of caveolae/caveolin-1 in virus infections have increasingly been appreciated. Over the past few decades, more and more viruses have been identified to invade host cells via caveolae-mediated endocytosis, although other known pathways have been explored. The subsequent post-entry events, including trafficking, replication, assembly, and egress of a large number of viruses, are caveolae/caveolin-1-dependent. Deprivation of caveolae/caveolin-1 by drug application or gene editing leads to abnormalities in viral uptake, viral protein expression, or virion release, whereas the underlying mechanisms remain elusive and must be explored holistically to provide potential novel antiviral targets and strategies. This review recapitulates our current knowledge on how caveolae/caveolin-1 functions in every step of the viral infection cycle and various relevant signaling pathways, hoping to provide a new perspective for future viral cell biology research.
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