Abstract: We recently discovered an entirely novel type of viral transmission whereby enteroviruses are transmitted as populations, instead of as single viral particles, among cells (Chen YH et al.). We found this type of infectivity to be mediated by phosphatidylserine-enriched vesicles derived from host membranes.
This mode of transmission, due to its essentially “quantal” nature, delivers large quantities of viral genomes simultaneously into the cytoplasm of susceptible host cells. We find that this results in very high multiplicities of infection that both enhance viral replication and modulate the host immune system. We discuss the impact of these findings on viral pathogenesis.