In the past it was thought that there was a sharp distinction between lytic and nonlytic viruses. However, some nonenveloped viruses such as picornaviruses seem to be able to spread without lysis. Measurements of cell populations cannot exclude lysis of a few cells but single-cell microscopy has conclusively shown nonlytic cell-to-cell poliovirus spread. Poliovirus, hepatitis A and coxsackievirus B3 can be found in extracellular vesicles. This short review discusses complex exit strategies such as the creation of new compartments whose complex topologies allow the exit of cytoplasm and its contents without violating the integrity of the cell.
Escape of non-enveloped virus from intact cells. Virology. 15 Apr 2015. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2015.03.044
How do viruses spread from cell to cell? Enveloped viruses acquire their surrounding membranes by budding. If a newly enveloped virus has budded through the plasma membrane, it finds itself outside the cell immediately. If it has budded through the bounding membrane of an internal compartment such as the ER, the virus finds itself in the lumen, from which it can exit the cell via the conventional secretion pathway. Thus, although some enveloped viruses destroy the cells they infect, there is no topological need to do so. On the other hand, naked viruses such as poliovirus lack an external membrane. They are protein-nucleic acid complexes within the cytoplasm or nucleus of the infected cell, like a ribosome, a spliceosome or an aggregate of Huntingtin protein. The simplest way for such a particle to pass through the single lipid bilayer that separates it from the outside of the cell would be to violate the integrity of that bilayer. Thus, it is not surprising that the primary mode of exit for non-enveloped viruses is cell lysis. However, more complex exit strategies are possible, such as the creation of new compartments whose complex topologies allow the exit of cytoplasm and its contents without violating the integrity of the cell. Here we will discuss the non-lytic spread of poliovirus and recent observations of such compartments during viral infection with several different picornaviruses.