Myelin and lymphocyte protein (MAL) is a tetraspan integral membrane protein that resides in detergent-insoluble membrane fractions enriched in condensed membranes. MAL is expressed in oligodendrocytes, in Schwann cells, where it is essential for the stability of myelin, and at the apical membrane of epithelial cells, where it has a critical role in transport. In T lymphocytes, MAL is found at the immunological synapse and plays a crucial role in exosome secretion. However, no involvement of MAL in viral infections has been reported so far. Here, we show that herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) virions travel in association with MAL-positive structures to reach the end of cellular processes, which contact uninfected oligodendrocytes. Importantly, the depletion of MAL led to a significant decrease in infection, with a drastic reduction in the number of lytic plaques in MAL-silenced cells. These results suggest a significant role for MAL in viral spread at cell contacts. The participation of MAL in the cell-to-cell spread of HSV-1 may shed light on the involvement of proteolipids in this process. IMPORTANCE Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is a neurotropic pathogen that can infect many types of cells and establish latent infections in neurons. HSV-1 may spread from infected to uninfected cells by two main routes: by cell-free virus or by cell-to-cell spread. In the first case, virions exit into the extracellular space and then infect another cell from the outside. In the second case, viral transmission occurs through cell-to-cell contacts via a mechanism that is still poorly understood. A third mode of spread, using extracellular vesicles, also exists. In this study, we demonstrate the important role for a myelin protein, myelin and lymphocyte protein (MAL), in the process of cell-to-cell viral spread in oligodendrocytes. We show that MAL is involved in trafficking of virions along cell processes and that MAL depletion produces a significant alteration in the viral cycle, which reduces cell-to cell spread of HSV-1.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science