Influenza A virus (IAV) affects the upper and lower respiratory tracts and rapidly induces the expression of mucins, which are common O-glycosylated proteins, on the epithelial surfaces of the respiratory tract. Although mucin production is associated with the inhibition of virus transmission as well as characteristic clinical symptoms, little is known regarding how mucins are produced on the surfaces of respiratory epithelial cells and how they affect IAV replication. In this study, we found that two microRNAs (miRNAs), miR-17-3p and miR-221, which target GalNAc transferase 3 (GALNT3) mRNA, are rapidly downregulated in human alveolar basal epithelial cells during the early stage of IAV infection.Wedemonstrated that the expression of GALNT3mRNAis upregulated in an IAV replication-dependent fashion and leads to mucin production in bronchial epithelial cells. A lectin microarray analysis revealed that the stable expression of GALNT3 by human alveolar basal epithelial cells induces mucin-type O-glycosylation modifications similar to those present in IAV-infected cells, suggesting that GALNT3 promotes mucin-type O-linked glycosylation in IAV-infected cells. Notably, analyses using short interfering RNAs and miRNA mimics showed that GALNT3 knockdown significantly reduces IAV replication. Furthermore, IAV replication was markedly decreased in embryonic fibroblast cells obtained from galnt3-knockout mice. Interestingly, IAV-infected galnt3-knockout mice exhibited high mortality and severe pathological alterations in the lungs compared to those of wild-type mice. Our results demonstrate not only the molecular mechanism underlying rapid mucin production during IAV infection but also the contribution of O-linked glycosylation to the replication and propagation of IAV in lung cells.
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