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2022-8-12 5:27:19


Bao D, Lu C, Ma T, Xu G, Mao Y, Xin L, Niu S, Wu Z. Hydrophobic Residues at the Intracellular Domain of the M2 Protein Play an Important Role in Budding and Membrane Integrity of Influenza Virus. J Virol. 2022 Apr 11:e0037322
submited by kickingbird at Apr, 12, 2022 8:33 AM from J Virol. 2022 Apr 11:e0037322

M2 protein of influenza virus plays an important role in virus budding, including membrane scission and vRNP packaging. Three hydrophobic amino acids (91F, 92V, and 94I) at the intracellular domain of the M2 protein constitute a hydrophobic motif, also known as the LC3-interacting region (LIR), whereas the role of this motif remains largely unclear. To explore the role of the 91-94 hydrophobic motif for influenza virus, all three hydrophobic amino acids were mutated to either hydrophilic S or hydrophobic A, resulting in two mutant viruses (WSN-M2/SSS and WSN-M2/AAA) in the background of WSN/H1N1. The results showed that the budding ability of the M2/SSS protein was inhibited and the bilayer membrane integrity of the WSN-M2/SSS virion was impaired based on transmission electron microscopy (TEM), which in turn abolished the resistance to trypsin treatment. Moreover, the mutant WSN-M2/SSS was dramatically attenuated in mice. In contrast, the AAA mutations did not have a significant effect on the budding of the M2 proteins or the bilayer membrane integrity of the viruses, and the mutant WSN-M2/AAA was still lethal to mice. In addition, although the 91-94 motif is an LIR, knocking out of the LC3 protein of A549 cells did not significantly affect the membrane integrity of the influenza viruses propagated on the LC3KO cells, which suggested that the 91-94 hydrophobic motif affected the viral membrane integrity and budding is independent of the LC3 protein. Overall, the hydrophobicity of the 91-94 motif is crucial for the budding of M2, bilayer membrane integrity, and pathogenicity of the influenza viruses. IMPORTANCE M2 plays a crucial role in the influenza virus life cycle. However, the function of the C-terminal intracellular domain of M2 protein remains largely unclear. In this study, we explored the function of the 91-94 hydrophobic motif of M2 protein. The results showed that the reduction of the hydrophobicity of the 91-94 motif significantly affected the budding ability of the M2 protein and impaired the bilayer membrane integrity of the mutant virus. The mouse study showed that the reduction of the hydrophobicity of the 91-94 motif significantly attenuated the mutant virus. All of the results indicated that the hydrophobicity of the 91-94 motif of the M2 protein plays an important role in budding, membrane integrity, and pathogenicity of influenza virus. Our study offers insights into the mechanism of influenza virus morphogenesis, particularly into the roles of the 91-94 hydrophobic motif of M2 in virion assembly and the pathogenicity of the influenza viruses.

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