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UNLABELLED - Bloodstream spread is a critical step in the pathogenesis of many viruses. However, mechanisms that promote viremia are not well understood. Reoviruses are neurotropic viruses that disseminate hematogenously to the central nervous system. Junctional adhesion molecule A (JAM-A) is a tight junction protein that serves as a receptor for reovirus. JAM-A is required for establishment of viremia in infected newborn mice and viral spread to sites of secondary replication. To determine how viruses gain access to the circulatory system, we examined reovirus infection of polarized human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMECs). Reovirus productively infects polarized HBMECs, but infection does not alter tight junction integrity. Apical infection of polarized HBMECs is more efficient than basolateral infection, which is attributable to viral engagement of sialic acid and JAM-A. Viral release occurs exclusively from the apical surface via a mechanism that is not associated with lysis or apoptosis of infected cells. These data suggest that infection of endothelial cells routes reovirus apically into the bloodstream for systemic dissemination in the host. Understanding how viruses invade the bloodstream may aid in the development of therapeutics that block this step in viral pathogenesis.
IMPORTANCE - Bloodstream spread of viruses within infected hosts is a critical but poorly understood step in viral disease. Reoviruses first enter the host through the oral or respiratory route and infect cells in the central nervous system. Spread of reoviruses to the brain occurs by blood or nerves, which makes reoviruses useful models for studies of systemic viral dissemination. In this study, we examined how reoviruses infect endothelial cells, which form the walls of blood vessels. We found that reovirus infection of endothelial cells allows the virus to enter blood vessels and serves as a means for the virus to reach high titers in the circulation. Understanding how reovirus is routed through endothelial cells may aid in the design of antiviral drugs that target this important step in systemic viral infections.