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Human cytomegalovirus hijacks the autophagic machinery to assemble its viral particles

Infection with the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), a large enveloped virus that is widely distributed in human populations, is most often benign but can cause serious disease in immunocompromised individuals and severe abnormalities in the fetus.

In the article published in Scientific Reports [] Audrey Esclatine’s research group [] showed, by developing different autophagy-deficient cell lines, that HCMV uses autophagic machinery for its benefit to improve its multiplication.
Autophagy is a vesicular process that allows the degradation and recycling of cellular compounds. HCMV modifies the cell organization to form a specific structure called the viral assembly compartment (vAC). Located closed to the nucleus, which takes a large kidney-like shape induced by the infection, the vAC contains fragments of different cellular organelles, such as the Golgi apparatus, and is organized in concentric rings. The HCMV viral particle is transported to the vAC to acquire its envelope using different cellular membranes. In their paper, the authors showed that vesicles containing several autophagy proteins, such as LC3 in its lipidated form, accumulate in the vAC and contribute to the envelopment of the virus. These cellular proteins can also be spotted in purified extracellular viral particles.

This work therefore shows that the autophagic machinery participates in the cytoplasmic envelopment of HCMV viral particles into the vAC.

Audrey Esclatine

par Communication - publié le