Macropinocytosis has emerged as a major endocytic mechanism in the cell entry of animal viruses. The process differs fundamentally from other endocytic mechanisms involved in virus internalization. By activating growth factor receptors or other signaling molecules, plasma membrane-bound viruses trigger the activation of a signaling pathway. When amplified, this causes a transient, global change in cell behavior. The consequences of this change include the actin-dependent formation of membrane protrusions, the elevation of non-specific uptake of fluid, and the internalization of membrane together with surface-bound ligands and particles including viruses. Recent studies show that this strategy is used by a variety of enveloped and non-enveloped viruses.
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