Viruses from the third domain of life, Archaea, exhibit unusual features including extreme stability that allow their survival in harsh environments. In addition, these species have never been reported to integrate into human or any other eukaryotic genomes, and could thus serve for exploration of novel medical nanoplatforms. Here, we selected two archaeal viruses Sulfolobus monocaudavirus 1 (SMV1) and Sulfolobus spindle shaped virus 2 (SSV2) owing to their unique spindle shape, hyperthermostable and acid-resistant nature and studied their interaction with mammalian cells. Accordingly, we followed viral uptake, intracellular trafficking and cell viability in human endothelial cells of brain (hCMEC/D3 cells) and umbilical vein (HUVEC) origin. Whereas SMV1 is efficiently internalized into both types of human cells, SSV2 differentiates between HUVECs and hCMEC/D3 cells, thus opening a path for selective cell targeting. On internalization, both viruses localize to the lysosomal compartments. Neither SMV1, nor SSV2 induced any detrimental effect on cell morphology, plasma membrane and mitochondrial functionality. This is the first study demonstrating recognition of archaeal viruses by eukaryotic cells which provides good basis for future exploration of archaeal viruses in bioengineering and development of multifunctional vectors.
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