Open Sesame: Cell Entry and Vaccinia Virus

Lecture focuses on a single virus, the Vaccinia virus, as a model for cell binding, signaling and endocytosis. Fluorescently labeled Vaccinia viruses bind to and surf along host cell filopodia. Helenius lab members noticed that when Vaccinia, unlike other viruses, reached the surface of the cell body it caused the plasma membrane to form blebs. Further experiments showed that the virus tricks the cell into thinking it is apoptotic debris. This induces blebbing and subsequent uptake of the virus by macropinocytosis. Additionally, automated high throughput siRNA screening was used to screen a large number of infected cells for host genes required for Vaccinia virus uptake. Analysis of the genes identified allowed host factors and processes critical to viral infection to be identified. Expansion of this technique may provide a new source of information on pathogen-host interactions.

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