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Viruses 2015, 7(9), 5066-5083;

Exosome Biogenesis, Regulation, and Function in Viral Infection

Cell Biology of Viral Infection Lab, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Rua da Quinta Grande, 6, 2778-156 Oeiras, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Stephen Graham and Yorgo Modis
Received: 4 June 2015 / Revised: 31 August 2015 / Accepted: 7 September 2015 / Published: 17 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Exosomes)
Full-Text   |   PDF [1199 KB, uploaded 17 September 2015]   |  


Exosomes are extracellular vesicles released upon fusion of multivesicular bodies(MVBs) with the cellular plasma membrane. They originate as intraluminal vesicles (ILVs) duringthe process of MVB formation. Exosomes were shown to contain selectively sorted functionalproteins, lipids, and RNAs, mediating cell-to-cell communications and hence playing a role in thephysiology of the healthy and diseased organism. Challenges in the field include the identificationof mechanisms sustaining packaging of membrane-bound and soluble material to these vesicles andthe understanding of the underlying processes directing MVBs for degradation or fusion with theplasma membrane. The investigation into the formation and roles of exosomes in viral infection is inits early years. Although still controversial, exosomes can, in principle, incorporate any functionalfactor, provided they have an appropriate sorting signal, and thus are prone to viral exploitation.This review initially focuses on the composition and biogenesis of exosomes. It then explores theregulatory mechanisms underlying their biogenesis. Exosomes are part of the endocytic system,which is tightly regulated and able to respond to several stimuli that lead to alterations in thecomposition of its sub-compartments. We discuss the current knowledge of how these changesaffect exosomal release. We then summarize how different viruses exploit specific proteins ofendocytic sub-compartments and speculate that it could interfere with exosome function, althoughno direct link between viral usage of the endocytic system and exosome release has yet beenreported. Many recent reports have ascribed functions to exosomes released from cells infectedwith a variety of animal viruses, including viral spread, host immunity, and manipulation of themicroenvironment, which are discussed. Given the ever-growing roles and importance of exosomesin viral infections, understanding what regulates their composition and levels, and defining theirfunctions will ultimately provide additional insights into the virulence and persistence of infections. View Full-Text
Keywords: biological sciences; microbiology; virology; exosomes; endocytic pathways; immunity; mechanisms of viral spread biological sciences; microbiology; virology; exosomes; endocytic pathways; immunity; mechanisms of viral spread

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Alenquer, M.; Amorim, M.J. Exosome Biogenesis, Regulation, and Function in Viral Infection. Viruses 2015, 7, 5066-5083.

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