The interferon (IFN)-induced transmembrane (IFITM) proteins are critical mediators of the host antiviral response.
Scientists expand the role of IFITM proteins to host defense against intracellular bacterial infection by demonstrating that they restrict Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTb) intracellular growth.
Simultaneous knockdown of IFITM1, IFITM2, and IFITM3 by RNAi significantly enhances MTb growth in human monocytic and alveolar/epithelial cells, whereas individual overexpression of each IFITM impairs MTb growth in these cell types.
Furthermore, MTb infection, Toll-like receptor 2 and 4 ligands, and several proinflammatory cytokines induceIFITM1–3 gene expression in human myeloid cells.
Authors find that IFITM3 co-localizes with early and, in particular, late MTb phagosomes, and overexpression of IFITM3 enhances endosomal acidification in MTb-infected monocytic cells.
These findings provide evidence that the antiviral IFITMs participate in the restriction of mycobacterial growth, and they implicate IFITM-mediated endosomal maturation in its antimycobacterial activity.