The role of BST2/tetherin in feline retrovirus infection

Pathogenic retroviral infections of mammals have induced the evolution of cellular anti-viral restriction factors and have shaped their biological activities. This intrinsic immunity plays an important role in controlling viral replication and imposes a barrier to viral cross-species transmission. Well-studied examples of such host restriction factors are TRIM5alpha, an E3 ubiquitin ligase that binds incoming retroviral capsids in the cytoplasm via its C-terminal PRY/SPRY (B30.2) domain and targets them for proteasomal degradation, and APOBEC3 proteins, cytidine deaminases that induce hypermutation and impair viral reverse transcription. Tetherin (BST-2, CD317) is an interferon-inducible transmembrane protein that potently inhibits the release of nascent retrovirus particles in single-cycle replication assays. However, whether the primary biological activity of tetherin in vivo is that of a restriction factor remains uncertain as recent studies on human tetherin suggest that it is unable to prevent spreading infection of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). The feline tetherin homologue resembles human tetherin in amino acid sequence, protein topology and anti-viral activity. Transiently expressed feline tetherin displays potent inhibition of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and HIV-1 particle release. However, stable ectopic expression of feline tetherin in a range of feline cell lines has no inhibitory effect on the growth of either primary or cell culture-adapted strains of FIV. By comparing and contrasting the activities of the felid and primate tetherins against their respective immunodeficiency-causing lentiviruses we may gain insight into the contribution of tetherins to the control of lentiviral replication and the evolution of lentiviral virulence.

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