Journal of virology

Influenza A virus hemagglutinin and neuraminidase mutually accelerate their apical targeting through clustering of lipid rafts.

PMID 24965459


In polarized epithelial cells, influenza A virus hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) are intrinsically associated with lipid rafts and target the apical plasma membrane for viral assembly and budding. Previous studies have indicated that the transmembrane domain (TMD) and cytoplasmic tail (CT) of HA and NA are required for association with lipid rafts, but the raft dependencies of their apical targeting are controversial. Here, we show that coexpression of HA with NA accelerated their apical targeting through accumulation in lipid rafts. HA was targeted to the apical plasma membrane even when expressed alone, but the kinetics was much slower than that of HA in infected cells. Coexpression experiments revealed that apical targeting of HA and NA was accelerated by their coexpression. The apical targeting of HA was also accelerated by coexpression with M1 but not M2. The mutations in the outer leaflet of the TMD and the deletion of the CT in HA and NA that reduced their association with lipid rafts abolished the acceleration of their apical transport, indicating that the lipid raft association is essential for efficient apical trafficking of HA and NA. An in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA) revealed that HA and NA were accumulated and clustered in the cytoplasmic compartments only when both were associated with lipid rafts. Analysis with mutant viruses containing nonraft HA/NA confirmed these findings. We further analyzed lipid raft markers by in situ PLA and suggest a possible mechanism of the accelerated apical transport of HA and NA via clustering of lipid rafts. Lipid rafts serve as sites for viral entry, particle assembly, and budding, leading to efficient viral replication. The influenza A virus utilizes lipid rafts for apical plasma membrane targeting and particle budding. The hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) of influenza virus, key players for particle assembly, contain determinants for apical sorting and lipid raft association. However, it remains to be elucidated how lipid rafts contribute to the apical trafficking and budding. We investigated the relation of lipid raft association of HA and NA to the efficiency of apical trafficking. We show that coexpression of HA and NA induces their accumulation in lipid rafts and accelerates their apical targeting, and we suggest that the accelerated apical transport likely occurs by clustering of lipid rafts at the TGN. This finding provides the first evidence that two different raft-associated viral proteins induce lipid raft clustering, thereby accelerating apical trafficking of the viral proteins.