What is it about?

The interferon (IFN) system is the first line of defense against viral infection. Tetherin is an IFN induced host cell protein that exerts antiviral activity. Tetherin has previously been shown to inhibit release of Ebola virus (EBOV)-like particles from cells and to be counteracted by the viral glycoprotein (GP), at least in the context of transfected cells. Fruit bats are the natural reservoir of EBOV and - in contrast to infected humans - do not develop disease. We characterized whether tetherin contributes to control of EBOV spread in fruit bat cells. We show that fruit bat tetherin efficiently restricts release of EBOV-like particles from transfected cells and ís the only know tetherin orthologue that is at least partially resistant to counteraction by EBOV-GP. Moreover, we demonstrate that tetherin expression in fruit bat cells is IFN inducible. However, knock-down of tetherin had little effect on IFN mediated inhibition of EBOV infection. Nipah virus (NiV) also uses fruit bats as natural reservoir and in the context of NiV infection tetherin knock-down largely abrogated the antiviral activity of IFN.

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Why is it important?

Our results suggest that tetherin may critically contribute to control of NiV infection in the natural reservoir. In the context of EBOV infection, it needs to be determined whether tetherin had little impact on viral spread in IFN treated fruit bat cells because GP counteracts this antiviral factor under the conditions tested or because viral spread is intrinsically tetherin resistant.


It will be interesting to investigate whether human and fruit bat tetherin differ in their ability to inhibit NiV infection. In order to better understand the role of tetherin in EBOV infection a viral mutant with a selective defect in GP-mediated tetherin antagonism needs to be identified and characterized.

Professor Stefan Pöhlmann
German Primate Center

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Tetherin Inhibits Nipah Virus but Not Ebola Virus Replication in Fruit Bat Cells, Journal of Virology, November 2018, ASM Journals, DOI: 10.1128/jvi.01821-18.
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