Cleavage of influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) by host cell proteases is necessary for viral activation and infectivity. In humans and mice, members of the type II transmembrane protease family (TTSP), e.g., TMPRSS2, TMPRSS4, and TMPRSS11d (HAT), have been shown to cleave influenza virus HA for viral activation and infectivity in vitro. Recently, we reported that inactivation of a single HA-activating protease gene, Tmprss2, in knockout mice inhibits the spread of H1N1 influenza viruses. However, after infection of Tmprss2 knockout mice with an H3N2 influenza virus, only a slight increase in survival was observed, and mice still lost body weight. In this study, we investigated an additional trypsin-like protease, TMPRSS4. Both TMPRSS2 and TMPRSS4 are expressed in the same cell types of the mouse lung. Deletion of Tmprss4 alone in knockout mice does not protect them from body weight loss and death upon infection with H3N2 influenza virus. In contrast, Tmprss2-/- Tmprss4-/- double-knockout mice showed a remarkably reduced virus spread and lung pathology, in addition to reduced body weight loss and mortality. Thus, our results identified TMPRSS4 as a second host cell protease that, in addition to TMPRSS2, is able to activate the HA of H3N2 influenza virus in vivo.,
Journal of Virology
Department of Virology

Kühn, N., Bergmann, S., Kösterke, N., Lambertz, R. L. O., Keppner, A., van den Brand, J., … Schughart, K. (2016). The proteolytic activation of (H3N2) influenza A virus hemagglutinin is facilitated by different type II transmembrane serine proteases. Journal of Virology, 90(9), 4298–4307. doi:10.1128/JVI.02693-15