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Human IFITM3 restricts Chikungunya virus and Mayaro virus infection and is susceptible to virus-mediated counteraction

By Sergej Franz, Thomas Zillinger, Fabian Pott, Christiane Schüler, Sandra Dapa, Carlo Fischer, Vânia Passos, Saskia Stenzel, Fangfang Chen, Katinka Döhner, Gunther Hartmann, Beate Sodeik, Frank Pessler, Graham Simmons, Jan Felix Drexler, Christine Goffinet

Posted 12 Sep 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.11.292946

Interferon-induced transmembrane (IFITM) proteins restrict infection by enveloped viruses through interfering with membrane fusion and virion internalisation. The role of IFITM proteins during alphaviral infection of human cells and viral counteraction strategies remain largely unexplored. Here, we characterized the impact of IFITM proteins and variants on entry and spread of Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) and Mayaro virus (MAYV) in human cells, and provide first evidence for a CHIKV-mediated antagonism of IFITM proteins. IFITM1, 2 and 3 restricted infection at the level of alphavirus glycoprotein-mediated entry, both in the context of direct infection and during cell-to-cell transmission. Relocalization of normally endosomal IFITM3 to the plasma membrane resulted in the loss of its antiviral activity. rs12252-C, a naturally occurring variant of IFITM3 that has been proposed to associate with severe influenza in humans, restricted CHIKV, MAYV and influenza A virus infection as efficiently as wild-type IFITM3 . Finally, all antivirally active IFITM variants displayed reduced cell surface levels in CHIKV-infected cells involving a posttranscriptional process mediated by one or several non-structural protein(s) of CHIKV.

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