Villalón-Letelier F, Brooks AG, Londrigan SL. MARCH8 Restricts Influenza A Virus Infectivity but Does Not Downregulate Viral Glycoprotein Expression at the Surface of Infected Cells. mBio. 2021 Sep 14:e0148421
Membrane-associated RING-CH8 (MARCH8) impairs the cell surface expression of envelope glycoproteins from different viruses, reducing their incorporation into virions. Using stable cell lines with inducible MARCH8 expression, we show that MARCH8 did not alter susceptibility to influenza A virus (IAV) infection, but virions released from infected cells were markedly less infectious. Knockdown of endogenous MARCH8 confirmed its effect on IAV infectivity. The expression of MARCH8 impaired the infectivity of both H3N2 and H1N1 strains and was dependent on its E3 ligase activity. Although virions released in the presence of MARCH8 expressed smaller amounts of viral hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) proteins, there was no impact on levels of the viral HA, NA, or matrix 2 (M2) proteins detected on the surface of infected cells. Moreover, mutation of lysine residues in the cytoplasmic tails of HA, NA, and/or M2, or in the viral M1 protein, did not abrogate MARCH8-mediated restriction. While MARCH1 and -8 target similar immunological ligands and both restrict HIV-1, only MARCH8 inhibited IAV infectivity. Deletion of the N-terminal cytoplasmic (N-CT) domain of MARCH8 confirmed it to be a critical determinant of IAV inhibition. Of interest, deletion of the MARCH1 N-CT or its replacement with the MARCH8 N-CT resulted in acquisition of IAV restriction. Together, these data demonstrate that MARCH8 restricts a late stage in IAV replication by a mechanism distinct to its reported activity against other viruses. Moreover, we show that the N-CT of MARCH8 is essential for anti-IAV activity, whereas the MARCH1 N-CT inhibits its ability to restrict IAV. IMPORTANCE The antiviral activity of MARCH8 has been associated with the downregulation of envelope glycoproteins from a range of different viruses, resulting in reduced incorporation into nascent virions. Here, we show that MARCH8 restricts IAV at a late stage in virus replication, but this was not associated with reduced expression of IAV envelope glycoproteins on the surface of infected cells, pointing to a distinct mechanism of antiviral activity. Our studies also demonstrate the differential ability of MARCH1 and -8 to restrict IAV infectivity, highlighting the critical role of the N-CT domain of each protein in modulating IAV restriction. Overall, these studies provide novel insights regarding the mechanisms by which MARCH proteins contribute to cell-intrinsic immunity against IAV.
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