Background: Influenza A virus (IAV) is the etiologic agent of the febrile respiratory illness, commonly referred to as 'flu'. The lysosomal protease cathepsin B (CTSB) has shown to be involved in the lifecycle of various viruses. Here, we examined the role of CTSB in the IAV lifecycle.
Methods: CTSB-deficient (CTSB-/-) macrophages and the human lung epithelial cell line A549 cells treated with CA-074Me were infected with the A/Puerto Rico/8/34 strain of IAV (IAV-PR8). Viral entry and propagation were measured through quantitative real-time RT-PCR; production and localization of hemagglutinin (HA) protein in the infected host cells were analysed by Western blots, flow cytometry and confocal microscopy; production of progeny viruses were measured by a hemagglutination assay.
Results: CTSB-/- macrophages and CA-074Me-treated A549 cells had no defects in incorporating IAV-PR8 virions and permitting viral RNA synthesis. However, these cells produced significantly lower amounts of HA protein and progeny virions than wild-type or untreated cells.
Conclusion: These data indicate that CTSB is involved in the expression of IAV-PR8 HA protein and subsequent optimal production of IAV-PR8 progeny virions. Targeting CTSB can be a novel therapeutic strategy for treating IAV infection.
Keywords: CA-074 Me; Cathepsin B; Hemagglutinin; Influenza A virus.