Novel Mechanism of Microvesicle Regulation by the Antiviral Protein Tetherin During HIV Infection

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the American Heart Association








human immunodeficiency virus; immunogold; microvesicles; monocytes; scanning electron microscopy; tetherin; tissue factor


Background Microvesicles are cell membrane-derived vesicles that have been shown to augment inflammation. Specifically, monocyte-derived microvesicles (MDMVs), which can express the coagulation protein tissue factor, contribute to thrombus formation and cardiovascular disease. People living with HIV experience higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease and also exhibit increased levels of plasma microvesicles. The process of microvesicle release has striking similarity to budding of enveloped viruses. The surface protein tetherin inhibits viral budding by physically tethering budding virus particles to cells. Hence, we investigated the role of tetherin in regulating the release of MDMVs during HIV infection. Methods and Results The plasma of aviremic HIV-infected individuals had increased levels of tissue factor + MDMVs, as measured by flow cytometry, and correlated to reduced tetherin expression on monocytes. Superresolution confocal and electron microscopy showed that tetherin localized at the site of budding MDMVs. Mechanistic studies revealed that the exposure of monocytes to HIV-encoded Tat triggered tetherin loss and subsequent rise in MDMV production. Overexpression of tetherin in monocytes led to morphologic changes in the pseudopodia directly underneath the MDMVs. Further, tetherin knockout mice demonstrated a higher number of circulating MDMVs and less time to bleeding cessation. Conclusions Our studies define a novel regulatory mechanism of MDMV release through tetherin and explore its contribution to the procoagulatory state that is frequently observed in people with HIV. Such insights could lead to improved therapies for individuals infected with HIV and also for those with cardiovascular disease.