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J Virol. 2008 Jun;82(12):5940-50. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02496-07. Epub 2008 Apr 16.

Sulfatide is required for efficient replication of influenza A virus.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Shizuoka, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Shizuoka 422-8526, Japan.


Sulfatide is abundantly expressed in various mammalian organs, including the intestines and trachea, in which influenza A viruses (IAVs) replicate. However, the function of sulfatide in IAV infection remains unknown. Sulfatide is synthesized by two transferases, ceramide galactosyltransferase (CGT) and cerebroside sulfotransferase (CST), and is degraded by arylsulfatase A (ASA). In this study, we demonstrated that sulfatide enhanced IAV replication through efficient translocation of the newly synthesized IAV nucleoprotein (NP) from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, by using genetically produced cells in which sulfatide expression was down-regulated by RNA interference against CST mRNA or overexpression of the ASA gene and in which sulfatide expression was up-regulated by overexpression of both the CST and CGT genes. Treatment of IAV-infected cells with an antisulfatide monoclonal antibody (MAb) or an anti-hemagglutinin (HA) MAb, which blocks the binding of IAV and sulfatide, resulted in a significant reduction in IAV replication and accumulation of the viral NP in the nucleus. Furthermore, antisulfatide MAb protected mice against lethal challenge with pathogenic influenza A/WSN/33 (H1N1) virus. These results indicate that association of sulfatide with HA delivered to the cell surface induces translocation of the newly synthesized IAV ribonucleoprotein complexes from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. Our findings provide new insights into IAV replication and suggest new therapeutic strategies.

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