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Viruses. 2011 Dec;3(12):2462-77. doi: 10.3390/v3122462. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

The actin cytoskeleton as a barrier to virus infection of polarized epithelial cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Pittsburgh, 518 Bridgeside Point II, 450 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA.


Many diverse viruses target a polarized epithelial monolayer during host invasion. The polarized epithelium is adept at restricting the movement of solutes, ions, macromolecules, and pathogens across the mucosa. This regulation can be attributed to the presence of a junctional complex between adjacent cells and to an intricate network of actin filaments that provides support to the subapical membrane and stabilizes intercellular junctions. It is therefore not surprising that many viruses have evolved highly varied strategies to dissolve or modulate the cortical actin meshwork to promote infection of polarized cells. In this review, we will discuss the cell biological properties of the actin cytoskeleton in polarized epithelial cells and review the known mechanisms utilized by viral pathogens to manipulate this system in order to facilitate their infection.


actin cytoskeleton; polarized epithelium; tight junctions; virus entry

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