Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Virion-associated phosphatidylethanolamine promotes TIM1-mediated infection by Ebola, dengue, and West Nile viruses.

PMID 26575624


Phosphatidylserine (PS) receptors contribute to two crucial biological processes: apoptotic clearance and entry of many enveloped viruses. In both cases, they recognize PS exposed on the plasma membrane. Here we demonstrate that phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) is also a ligand for PS receptors and that this phospholipid mediates phagocytosis and viral entry. We show that a subset of PS receptors, including T-cell immunoglobulin (Ig) mucin domain protein 1 (TIM1), efficiently bind PE. We further show that PE is present in the virions of flaviviruses and filoviruses, and that the PE-specific cyclic peptide lantibiotic agent Duramycin efficiently inhibits the entry of West Nile, dengue, and Ebola viruses. The inhibitory effect of Duramycin is specific: it inhibits TIM1-mediated, but not L-SIGN-mediated, virus infection, and it does so by blocking virus attachment to TIM1. We further demonstrate that PE is exposed on the surface of apoptotic cells, and promotes their phagocytic uptake by TIM1-expressing cells. Together, our data show that PE plays a key role in TIM1-mediated virus entry, suggest that disrupting PE association with PS receptors is a promising broad-spectrum antiviral strategy, and deepen our understanding of the process by which apoptotic cells are cleared.