The kinesin KIF4 mediates HBV/HDV entry through regulation of surface NTCP localization and can be targeted by RXR agonists in vitro (3 tweets)

Intracellular transport via microtubule-based dynein and kinesin family motors plays a key role in viral reproduction and transmission. We show here that Kinesin Family Member 4 (KIF4) plays an important role in HBV/HDV infection. We intended to explore host factors impacting the HBV life cycle that can be therapeutically addressed using siRNA library transfection and HBV/NLuc (HBV/NL) reporter virus infection in HepG2-hNTCP C4 cells. KIF4 silencing resulted in a 3-fold reduction in luciferase activity following HBV/NL infection and suppressed both wild-type HBV and HDV infection. Transient KIF4 depletion reduced surface and raised intracellular NTCP (HBV/HDV entry receptor) levels, according to both cellular fractionation and immunofluorescence analysis (IF). Overexpression of wild-type KIF4 but not ATPase-null KIF4 regains the surface localization of NTCP in these cells. Furthermore, immunofluorescence (IF) revealed KIF4 and NTCP colocalization across microtubule filaments, and a co-immunoprecipitation study showed that KIF4 physically binds to NTCP. KIF4 expression is regulated by FOXM1. Interestingly, we discovered that RXR agonists (Bexarotene, and Alitretinoin) down-regulated KIF4 expression via FOXM1-mediated suppression, resulting in a substantial decrease in HBV-Pre-S1 protein attachment to HepG2-hNTCP cell surface and subsequent suppression of HBV infection in HepG2-hNTCP and primary human hepatocytes (PXB) (Bexarotene, IC50 1.89 ± 0.98 μM). Overall, our findings show that human KIF4 is a critical regulator of NTCP surface transport and localization, which is required for NTCP to function as a receptor for HBV/HDV entry. Furthermore, small molecules that suppress or alleviate KIF4 expression would be potential antiviral candidates that target HBV and HDV entry phases.

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