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Unique Evolution of Antiviral Tetherin in Bats - ASM Journals

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  • Unique Evolution of Antiviral Tetherin in Bats - ASM Journals

    29 September 2022


    Authors: Joshua A. Hayward, Mary Tachedjian, AdamJohnson, Aaron T. Irving, Tamsin B. Gordon, Jie Cui, AlexisNicolas, SHOW ALL (13 AUTHORS) , Ina Smith, Victoria Boyd, Glenn A. Marsh, Michelle L. Baker, Lin-Fa Wang, Gilda Tachedjian


    Bats are recognized as important reservoirs of viruses deadly to other mammals, including humans. These infections are typically nonpathogenic in bats, raising questions about host response differences that might exist between bats and other mammals. Tetherin is a restriction factor which inhibits the release of a diverse range of viruses from host cells, including retroviruses, coronaviruses, filoviruses, and paramyxoviruses, some of which are deadly to humans and transmitted by bats. Here, we characterize the tetherin genes from 27 bat species, revealing that they have evolved under strong selective pressure, and that fruit bats and vesper bats express unique structural variants of the tetherin protein. Tetherin was widely and variably expressed across fruit bat tissue types and upregulated in spleen tissue when stimulated with Toll-like receptor agonists. The expression of two computationally predicted splice isoforms of fruit bat tetherin was verified. We identified an additional third unique splice isoform which includes a C-terminal region that is not homologous to known mammalian tetherin variants but was functionally capable of restricting the release of filoviral virus-like particles. We also report that vesper bats possess and express at least five tetherin genes, including structural variants, more than any other mammal reported to date. These findings support the hypothesis of differential antiviral gene evolution in bats relative to other mammals.

    Bats are an important host of various viruses which are deadly to humans and other mammals but do not cause outward signs of illness in bats. Furthering our understanding of the unique features of the immune system of bats will shed light on how they tolerate viral infections, potentially informing novel antiviral strategies in humans and other animals. This study examines the antiviral protein tetherin, which prevents viral particles from escaping their host cell. Analysis of tetherin from 27 bat species reveals that it is under strong evolutionary pressure, and we show that multiple bat species have evolved to possess more tetherin genes than other mammals, some of which encode structurally unique tetherins capable of activity against different viral particles. These data suggest that bat tetherin plays a potentially broad and important role in the management of viral infections in bats. ...