<h2>When is a virus an exosome?</h2> A bold new theory suggests that retroviruses have hijacked an intercellular communication system for both their biogenesis and spread. The concept, outlined by Stephen Gould, Amy Booth, and James Hildreth (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD) has implications for HIV treatment and immunization strategies, and may explain why tissue rejection occurs in humans. Hildreth was looking at human proteins that HIV acquires during its biogenesis, and noticed that lysosomal proteins were in the mix. This ties in with recent findings in this and other journals that HIV is packaged in late endosomes (for review see Amara and Littman, 2003). In uninfected cells, this endosomal compartment invaginates to form small, internal vesicles. The bag of vesicles, or multivesicular body, can fuse with the plasma membrane to disgorge these vesicles, named exosomes, which then travel to other cells to transmit messages. In the immune system, exosomes transfer peptide-laden MHC proteins to noninfected cells, and also act as miniature versions of antigen-presenting cells. Hildreth now proposes that “the virus is fully an exosome in every sense of the word.” Others have found that HIV particles contain MHC, but by the exosome hypothesis they may also contain
The Journal of Cell Biology – Rockefeller University Press
Published: Sep 15, 2003
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