Tuesday’s sessions of the annual ASEMV 2019 meeting at Asilomar, California, featured many exciting presentations. Among the 16 talks of the day, five were of particular interest. The first was by Ryan McNamara, PhD, of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, whose presentation was titled “EVs from Kaposi Sarcoma-Associated Herpes Lymphoma Induce Long-Term Endothelial Cell Reprogramming.” Dr. McNamara noted that extracellular communication is critical for organismal homeostasis, and thus presents as a major network for viruses to usurp for viral pathogenesis. EVs package contents from a donor cell to communicate with its surroundings, and evolutionarily diverse viruses have been shown to hijack this communication axis to promote pathogenesis. Previously, Dr. McNamara and colleagues had showd that the oncovirus Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpes Virus (KSHV) incorporates viral miRNA into EVs secreted from infected cells during the “latency stage” of the viral life cycle. They hypothesized that these modified EVs, termed KSHV-EVs, aid in the establishment of a more favorable niche for disease/tumor progression. Their current results demonstrate that KSHV can modify the local environment using EVs. The group currently proposes that oncoviruses such as KSHV utilize the extracellular communications network through EVs to establish a niche favorable for disease progression and tissue transformation. This allows for the virus to reshape the local environment with minimal spread of the infectious agent, and without tripping immune alarms. In a following presentation, Jeffrey Savas, PhD, from Northwestern University, spoke on how “Viral Scission Factor Alix Tunes Neuronal Communication Through EVs.” Dr. Savas began by noting that synaptic plasticity is a dynamic process facilitating adaptable and flexible communication.
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