Filopodia and Viruses: An Analysis of Membrane Processes in Entry Mechanisms

Front Microbiol. 2016 Mar 10;7:300. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00300. eCollection 2016.


Filopodia are thin, actin rich bundles protruding from cell plasma membranes, serving physiological purposes, such as probing the environment and facilitating cell-to-cell adhesion. Recent studies have highlighted that actively polymerized filopodial-protrusions are exploited during virus entry, trafficking, spread, and the development of clinical pathology of viral diseases. These observations have caused a surge in investigation of the key determinants of filopodial induction and their influence on cell topography including receptor expression for viral entry. It is now very clear that filopodia can provide unique opportunities for many viruses to invade host cells vertically during primary infection, or horizontally during virus spread from cell-to-cell. These emerging concepts can explain the unprecedented ability of viruses to invade both nearby and long-distant host cells, a feature that may directly contribute to viral tropism. In this review, we summarize the significance of filopodia in viral diseases and discuss future therapeutic possibilities to precisely target filopodial-flyovers to prevent or control infectious diseases.

Keywords: filopodia; heparan sulfate; virus entry; virus-cell interaction.

Publication types

  • Review