The EMBO journal

Moesin regulates stable microtubule formation and limits retroviral infection in cultured cells.

PMID 17170707


In a functional screen of mammalian complementary DNA libraries, we identified moesin as a novel gene whose overexpression blocks infection by murine leukemia viruses and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 in human and rodent lines, before the initiation of reverse transcription. Knockdown of moesin by RNA interference resulted in enhanced infection, suggesting that even the endogenous basal levels of moesin in rat fibroblasts are sufficient to limit virus infection. Moesin acts as a crosslinker between plasma membrane and actin filaments, as well as a signal transducer in responses involving cytoskeletal remodeling. Moesin overexpression was found to downregulate the formation of stable microtubules, whereas knockdown of moesin increased stable microtubule formation. A virus-resistant mutant cell line also displayed decreased stable microtubule levels, and virus-sensitive revertants recovered from the mutant line showed restoration of the stable microtubules, suggesting that these cytoskeletal networks play an important role in early post-entry events in the retroviral lifecycle. Together, these results suggest that moesin negatively regulates stable microtubule networks and is a natural determinant of cellular sensitivity to retroviral infection.