Exosomes are extracellular vesicles released upon fusion of multivesicular bodies (MVBs) with the cellular plasma membrane. They originate as intraluminal vesicles (ILVs) during the process of MVB formation. Exosomes were shown to contain selectively sorted functional proteins, lipids, and RNAs, mediating cell-to-cell communications and hence playing a role in the physiology of the healthy and diseased organism. Challenges in the field include the identification of mechanisms sustaining packaging of membrane-bound and soluble material to these vesicles and the understanding of the underlying processes directing MVBs for degradation or fusion with the plasma membrane. The investigation into the formation and roles of exosomes in viral infection is in its early years. Although still controversial, exosomes can, in principle, incorporate any functional factor, 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 the regulatory 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 the composition of its sub-compartments. We discuss the current knowledge of how these changes affect exosomal release. We then summarize how different viruses exploit specific proteins of endocytic sub-compartments and speculate that it could interfere with exosome function, although no direct link between viral usage of the endocytic system and exosome release has yet been reported. Many recent reports have ascribed functions to exosomes released from cells infected with a variety of animal viruses, including viral spread, host immunity, and manipulation of the microenvironment, which are discussed. Given the ever-growing roles and importance of exosomes in viral infections, understanding what regulates their composition and levels, and defining their functions will ultimately provide additional insights into the virulence and persistence of infections.
Alenquer, M., & Amorim, M. J. (2015, September 17). Exosome biogenesis, regulation, and function in viral infection. Viruses. MDPI AG. https://doi.org/10.3390/v7092862