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J Virol. 2019 Jan 17;93(3). pii: e01821-18. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01821-18. Print 2019 Feb 1.

Tetherin Inhibits Nipah Virus but Not Ebola Virus Replication in Fruit Bat Cells.

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Infection Biology Unit, German Primate Center, Göttingen, Germany
Infection Biology Unit, German Primate Center, Göttingen, Germany.
Faculty of Biology and Psychology, University Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.
Institute of Virology, Philipps-University Marburg, Marburg, Germany.
Institute of Virology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Hannover, Germany.
Research Center for Emerging Infections and Zoonoses, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Hannover, Germany.
Institute of Medical Virology and Epidemiology of Viral Diseases, University Hospital Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.
Institute of Virology, Helmholtz Center Munich-Research Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany.
Institute of Molecular Virology and Cell Biology, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Greifswald, Insel Riems, Germany.


Ebola virus (EBOV) and Nipah virus (NiV) infection of humans can cause fatal disease and constitutes a public health threat. In contrast, EBOV and NiV infection of fruit bats, the putative (EBOV) or proven (NiV) natural reservoir, is not associated with disease, and it is currently unknown how these animals control the virus. The human interferon (IFN)-stimulated antiviral effector protein tetherin (CD317, BST-2) blocks release of EBOV- and NiV-like particles from cells and is counteracted by the EBOV glycoprotein (GP). In contrast, it is unknown whether fruit bat tetherin restricts virus infection and is susceptible to GP-driven antagonism. Here, we report the sequence of fruit bat tetherin and show that its expression is IFN stimulated and associated with strong antiviral activity. Moreover, we demonstrate that EBOV-GP antagonizes tetherin orthologues of diverse species but fails to efficiently counteract fruit bat tetherin in virus-like particle (VLP) release assays. However, unexpectedly, tetherin was dispensable for robust IFN-mediated inhibition of EBOV spread in fruit bat cells. Thus, the VLP-based model systems mimicking tetherin-mediated inhibition of EBOV release and its counteraction by GP seem not to adequately reflect all aspects of EBOV release from IFN-stimulated fruit bat cells, potentially due to differences in tetherin expression levels that could not be resolved by the present study. In contrast, tetherin expression was essential for IFN-dependent inhibition of NiV infection, demonstrating that IFN-induced fruit bat tetherin exerts antiviral activity and may critically contribute to control of NiV and potentially other highly virulent viruses in infected animals.IMPORTANCE Ebola virus and Nipah virus (EBOV and NiV) can cause fatal disease in humans. In contrast, infected fruit bats do not develop symptoms but can transmit the virus to humans. Why fruit bats but not humans control infection is largely unknown. Tetherin is an antiviral host cell protein and is counteracted by the EBOV glycoprotein in human cells. Here, employing model systems, we show that tetherin of fruit bats displays higher antiviral activity than human tetherin and is largely resistant against counteraction by the Ebola virus glycoprotein. Moreover, we demonstrate that induction of tetherin expression is critical for interferon-mediated inhibition of NiV but, for at present unknown reasons, not EBOV spread in fruit bat cells. Collectively, our findings identify tetherin as an antiviral effector of innate immune responses in fruit bats, which might allow these animals to control infection with NiV and potentially other viruses that cause severe disease in humans.


Ebola virus; Nipah virus; bat; tetherin

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