Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 20585562
PLoS Pathog. 2010;6(6):e1000955
The IFN-inducible antiviral protein tetherin (or BST-2/CD317/HM1.24) impairs release of mature HIV-1 particles from infected cells. HIV-1 Vpu antagonizes the effect of tetherin. The fate of virions trapped at the cell surface remains poorly understood. Here, we asked whether tetherin impairs HIV cell-to-cell transmission, a major means of viral spread. Tetherin-positive or -negative cells, infected with wild-type or DeltaVpu HIV, were used as donor cells and cocultivated with target lymphocytes. We show that tetherin inhibits productive cell-to-cell transmission of DeltaVpu to targets and impairs that of WT HIV. Tetherin accumulates with Gag at the contact zone between infected and target cells, but does not prevent the formation of virological synapses. In the presence of tetherin, viruses are then mostly transferred to targets as abnormally large patches. These viral aggregates do not efficiently promote infection after transfer, because they accumulate at the surface of target cells and are impaired in their fusion capacities. Tetherin, by imprinting virions in donor cells, is the first example of a surface restriction factor limiting viral cell-to-cell spread.