Interferon-induced transmembrane proteins (IFITMs) are broadly active against deadly viruses, from flu to Ebola, and play an important role in defending humans from viral infections. But because IFITMs are tiny, researchers haven’t been able to easily observe how they work. Now, in a study published online on January 14 in Nature Chemical Biology, Jennifer Spence, Ph.D., and Kartik Chandran, Ph.D., used fluorescence microscopy to live-image IFITMs for the first time in cells while the proteins were fighting viruses. Drs. Spence and Chandran found that IFITMs 1, 2, and 3 worked together to prevent viruses from penetrating cellular membranes and entering the cytoplasm. Once viruses entered cells, IFITM3 fused with the virus-bearing compartments and helped carry them into the lysosomes, where they are digested. The results show that this imaging technique could be useful for future research into antiviral mechanisms. Dr. Chandran is professor of microbiology & immunology and the Harold and Muriel Block Faculty Scholar in Virology at Einstein. Dr. Spence is a research assistant professor of microbiology & immunology at Einstein.
Posted on: Thursday, February 07, 2019