Virus-induced alterations in cell morphology play important roles in the viral life cycle. To examine the intracellular events of coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) infection, green monkey kidney (GMK) cells were either inoculated with the virus or transfected with the viral RNA. Various microscopic and flow cytometric approaches demonstrated the emergence of CVB3 capsid proteins at 8 h posttransfection, followed by morphological transformation of the cells. The morphological changes included formation of membranous protrusions containing viral capsids, together with microtubules and actin. Translocation of viral capsids into these protrusions was sensitive to cytochalasin D, suggesting the importance of actin in the process. Three-dimensional (3D) live-cell imaging demonstrated frequent contacts between cellular protrusions and adjacent cells. Markedly, in spite of an increase in the cellular viral protein content starting 8 h postinfection, no significant decrease in cell viability or increase in the amount of early apoptotic markers was observed by flow cytometry by 28 h postinfection. Comicroinjection of viral RNA and fluorescent dextran in the presence of neutralizing virus antibody suggested that these protrusions mediated the spread of infection from one cell to another prior to virus-induced cell lysis. Altogether, the CVB3-induced cellular protrusions could function as a hitherto-unknown nonlytic mechanism of cell-to-cell transmission exploited by enteroviruses.
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