Exosomes derived from Epstein-Barr virus-infected cells are internalized via caveola-dependent endocytosis and promote phenotypic modulation in target cells

J Virol. 2013 Sep;87(18):10334-47. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01310-13. Epub 2013 Jul 17.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a human gammaherpesvirus, establishes a lifelong latent infection in B lymphocytes and epithelial cells following primary infection. Several lines of evidence suggest that exosomes derived from EBV-infected cells are internalized and transfer viral factors, including EBV-encoded latent membrane protein and microRNAs, to the recipient cells. However, the detailed mechanism by which exosomes are internalized and their physiological impact on the recipient cells are still poorly understood. In this study, we visualized the internalization of fluorescently labeled exosomes derived from EBV-uninfected and EBV-infected B cells of type I and type III latency into EBV-negative epithelial cells. In this way, we demonstrated that exosomes derived from all three cell types were internalized into the target cells in a similar fashion. Internalization of exosomes was significantly suppressed by treatment with an inhibitor of dynamin and also by the knockdown of caveolin-1. Labeled exosomes were colocalized with caveolae and subsequently trafficked through endocytic pathways. Moreover, we observed that exosomes derived from type III latency cells upregulated proliferation and expression of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) in the recipient cells more significantly than did those derived from EBV-negative and type I latency cells. We also identified the EBV latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) gene as responsible for induction of ICAM-1 expression. Taken together, our data indicate that exosomes released from EBV-infected B cells are internalized via caveola-dependent endocytosis, which, in turn, contributes to phenotypic changes in the recipient cells through transferring one or more viral factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / virology*
  • Caveolae / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Endocytosis*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / virology*
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / growth & development*
  • Humans