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J Gen Virol. 2012 May;93(Pt 5):963-9. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.038778-0. Epub 2012 Jan 18.

Release of filamentous and spherical influenza A virus is not restricted by tetherin.

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  • 1Division of Virology, Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QP, UK.


The cellular protein tetherin is thought to act as a 'leash' that anchors many enveloped viruses to the plasma membrane and prevents their release. We found that replication of multiple strains of influenza A virus was generally insensitive to alteration of tetherin levels, as assessed by output titre or scanning electron microscopy of cell-associated virions. This included human, swine, avian and equine isolates, strains that form filamentous or spherical particles and viruses that lack the M2 or NS1 proteins. Levels of cell-surface tetherin were not reduced by influenza infection, but tetherin and the viral haemagglutinin co-localized on the plasma membrane. However, tetherin could not be detected in filamentous virions, suggesting that influenza may possess a mechanism to exclude it from virions. Overall, if influenza does encode a specific antagonist of tetherin, it is not M2 or NS1 and we find no evidence for a role in host range specificity.

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