Tetherin inhibits Nipah virus but not Ebola virus replication in fruit bat cells
Ebola virus (EBOV) and Nipah virus (NiV) infection of humans can cause fatal disease and constitutes a public health threat. In contrast, EBOV and NiV infection of fruit bats, the putative (EBOV) or proven (NiV) natural reservoir, is not associated with disease and it is currently unknown how these animals control the virus. The human interferon (IFN)-stimulated antiviral effector protein tetherin (CD317, BST-2) blocks release of EBOV- and NiV-like particles from cells and is counteracted by the EBOV glycoprotein (GP). In contrast, it is unknown whether fruit bat tetherin restricts virus infection and is susceptible to GP-driven antagonism. Here, we report the sequence of fruit bat tetherin and show that its expression is IFN-stimulated and associated with strong antiviral activity. Moreover, we demonstrate that EBOV-GP antagonizes tetherin orthologues of diverse species but fails to efficiently counteract fruit bat tetherin in virus-like particle (VLP) release assays. However, unexpectedly, tetherin was dispensable for robust IFN-mediated inhibition of EBOV spread in fruit bat cells. Thus, the VLP-based model system mimicking tetherin-mediated inhibition of EBOV release and its counteraction by GP seems not to adequately reflect all aspects of EBOV release from IFN-stimulated fruit bat cells, potentially due to differences in tetherin expression levels that could not be resolved by the present study. In contrast, tetherin expression was essential for IFN-dependent inhibition of NiV infection, demonstrating that IFN-induced fruit bat tetherin exerts antiviral activity and may critically contribute to control of NiV and potentially other highly virulent viruses in infected animals.