The host exosome pathway underpins biogenesis of the human cytomegalovirus virion

Declan L Turner, Denis V Korneev, John G Purdy, Alex de Marco, Rommel A Mathias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infects over half the world's population, is a leading cause of congenital birth defects, and poses serious risks for immuno-compromised individuals. To expand the molecular knowledge governing virion maturation, we analysed HCMV virions using proteomics, and identified a significant proportion of host exosome constituents. To validate this acquisition, we characterized exosomes released from uninfected cells, and demonstrated that over 99% of the protein cargo was subsequently incorporated into HCMV virions during infection. This suggested a common membrane origin, and utilization of host exosome machinery for virion assembly and egress. Thus, we selected a panel of exosome proteins for knock down, and confirmed that loss of 7/9 caused significantly less HCMV production. Saliently, we report that VAMP3 is essential for viral trafficking and release of infectious progeny, in various HCMV strains and cell types. Therefore, we establish that the host exosome pathway is intrinsic for HCMV maturation, and reveal new host regulators involved in viral trafficking, virion envelopment, and release. Our findings underpin future investigation of host exosome proteins as important modulators of HCMV replication with antiviral potential.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere58288
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2020


  • egress
  • exosome
  • HCMV
  • herpesvirus
  • human
  • infectious disease
  • microbiology
  • proteomics
  • virion assembly

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