Phosphorylation of the Antiviral Protein IFITM3 Dually Regulates its Endocytosis and Ubiquitination [Cell Biology]

March 13th, 2014 by Chesarino, N. M., McMichael, T. M., Hach, J. C., Yount, J. S.

Interferon-inducible transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3) is essential for innate defense against influenza virus in mice and humans. IFITM3 localizes to endolysosomes where it prevents virus fusion, though mechanisms controlling its trafficking to this cellular compartment are not fully understood. We determined that both mouse and human IFITM3 are phosphorylated by FYN kinase on tyrosine 20 (Tyr-20), and that mouse IFITM3 is also phosphorylated on the non-conserved Tyr-27. Phosphorylation led to a cellular redistribution of IFITM3, including plasma membrane accumulation. Mutation of Tyr-20 caused a similar redistribution of IFITM3 and resulted in decreased antiviral activity against influenza virus, while Tyr-27 mutation of mouse IFITM3 showed minimal effects on localization or activity. Using FYN knockout cells, we also found that IFITM3 phosphorylation is not a requirement for its antiviral activity. Together these results indicated that Tyr-20 is part of an endocytosis signal that can be blocked by phosphorylation or by mutation of this residue. Further mutagenesis narrowed this endocytosis-controlling region to four residues conforming to a YxxΦ endocytic motif, which, when transferred to CD4, resulted in its internalization from the cell surface. Additionally, we found that phosphorylation of IFITM3 by FYN and mutagenesis of Tyr-20 both resulted in decreased IFITM3 ubiquitination. Overall, these results suggest that modification of Tyr-20 may serve in a cellular checkpoint controling IFITM3 trafficking and degradation, and demonstrate the complexity of post-translational regulation of IFITM3.