Escape of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein from the restriction of infection by IFITM3

J Virol. 2020 Dec 9;95(5):e01994-20. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01994-20. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Interferon-induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3) is a cellular factor that reduces HIV-1 infectivity by an incompletely understood mechanism. We show here that viruses differing only in the envelope glycoprotein (Env) expressed on their surface have different sensitivities to IFITM3. Measurements of the sensitivity of viruses to neutralizing antibodies showed that IFITM3 increased the sensitivity of IFITM3-sensitive viruses to PG16, which targets the V1V2 loop, suggesting that IFITM3 promotes exposure of the PG16 epitope of IFITM3-sensitive viruses. Exchanges of V1V2 loops between the Env proteins of sensitive and resistant viruses revealed that V1V2 and V3 act together to modulate viral sensitivity to IFITM3. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments showed that IFITM3 interacted with both the precursor (gp160) and cleaved (gp120) forms of Env from IFITM3-sensitive viruses, but only with the precursor (gp160) form of Env from IFITM3-resistant viruses. This finding suggests that the interaction between the Env of resistant viruses and IFITM3 was inhibited once Env had been processed in the Golgi apparatus. This hypothesis was supported by immunofluorescence experiments, which showed a strong colocalization of IFITM3 with the Env of sensitive viruses, but only weak colocalization with the Env of resistant viruses on the plasma membrane of virus-producing cells. Together, these results indicate that IFITM3 interacts with Env, inducing conformational changes that may decrease viral infectivity. This antiviral action is, nevertheless, modulated by the nature of the Env, in particular its V1V2 and V3 loops, which after maturation may be able to escape this interaction.IMPORTANCE Interferon-induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3) is a cellular factor that reduces HIV-1 infectivity by an incompletely understood mechanism. This study aimed to elucidate the role of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) in determining viral susceptibility to IFITM3. We found that viruses differing only in Env expressed on their surface had different sensitivities to IFITM3. By comparing the Env proteins of viruses that were highly sensitive or resistant to IFITM3, we obtained new insight in the mechanisms by which HIV-1 escapes this protein. We showed that IFITM3 interacts with the Env protein of sensitive viruses in virion-producing cells, inducing conformational changes that may decrease viral infectivity. However, this antiviral action is modulated by the nature of Env, particularly the V1V2 and V3 loops, which may be able to escape this interaction after processing in the Golgi.