Investigating the function and regulation of IFITM proteins in interferon biology and disease
The Interferon Induced Transmembrane (IFITM) gene family consists of three anti-viral restriction factors, IFITM1-3. Studies starting in 2009 demonstrated that these proteins have critical and broad-spectrum protective activities in a variety of infection models, acting at the level of viral entry by preventing capsid fusion. Research from the laboratories of Richard Sloan and Kathryn Ball however have revealed novel functions for these proteins. The Sloan lab has shown that IFITM proteins inhibit intracellular HIV1 virus production independently of the viral entry step by inhibiting viral protein translation. The Ball lab have also independently discovered a role for IFITM1 and IFITM3 in regulating interferon-induced cellular protein synthesis. My goal is to clarify this new aspect of IFITM biology, detail how it is regulated by post-translational modification, and study implications for disease scenarios.