Several egress pathways have been defined for many viruses. Among these pathways, extracellular vesicles (EVs) have been shown to function as vehicles of non-lytic viral egress. EVs are heterogenous populations of membrane-bound structures released from cells as a form of intercellular communication. EV-mediated viral egress may enable immune evasion and collective viral transport. Strains of nonenveloped mammalian orthoreovirus (reovirus) differ in cell lysis phenotypes, with T3D disrupting cell membranes more efficiently than T1L. However, mechanisms of reovirus egress and the influence of transport strategy on infection are only partially understood.
To elucidate reovirus egress mechanisms, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center infected murine fibroblasts (L cells) and non-polarized human colon epithelial (Caco-2) cells with T1L or T3D reovirus and enriched cell culture supernatants for large EVs, medium EVs, small EVs, and free reovirus. The researchers found that both reovirus strains exit cells in association with large and medium EVs and as free virus particles, and that EV-enriched fractions are infectious. While reovirus visually associates with large and medium EVs, only medium EVs offer protection from antibody-mediated neutralization. EV-mediated protection from neutralization is virus strain- and cell type-specific, as medium EVs enriched from L cell supernatants protect T1L and T3D, while medium EVs enriched from Caco-2 cell supernatants largely fail to protect T3D and only protect T1L efficiently. Using genetically barcoded reovirus, they provide evidence that large and medium EVs can convey multiple particles to recipient cells. Finally, T1L or T3D infection increases the release of all EV sizes from L cells. Together, these findings suggest that in addition to exiting cells as free particles, reovirus promotes egress from distinct cell types in association with large and medium EVs during lytic or non-lytic infection, a mode of exit that can mediate multiparticle infection and, in some cases, protection from antibody neutralization.
Model of reovirus release and infection in association with EVs
This work indicates that in addition to exiting as free particles, reovirus strains that efficiently or inefficiently disrupt membranes can egress from mouse fibroblast and human colon epithelial cells in association with EVs. Reovirus particles are strain-specifically, cell type-dependently enclosed within and protected from antibody-mediated neutralization by medium EVs. Both large and medium EVs can transport multiple reovirus particles to recipient cells. Furthermore, compared to uninfected cells, reovirus infection enhances cellular release of EVs of all sizes.