DOI: 10.3390/v15122365 ISSN: 1999-4915

The Mobility of Eurasian Avian-like M2 Is Determined by Residue E79 Which Is Essential for Pathogenicity of 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Virus in Mice

Rujuan Wu, Xinyu Zeng, Mingqing Wu, Lixiang Xie, Guanlong Xu, Yaqing Mao, Zhaofei Wang, Yuqiang Cheng, Heng’an Wang, Yaxian Yan, Jianhe Sun, Jingjiao Ma
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

In 2009, a novel H1N1 influenza virus caused the first influenza pandemic of the 21st century. Studies have shown that the influenza M gene played important roles in the pathogenicity and transmissibility of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic ((H1N1)pdm09), whilst the underlying mechanism remains unclear. The influenza M gene encodes two proteins, matrix protein 1 and matrix protein 2, which play important roles in viral replication and assembly. In this study, it is found that the M2 protein of the (H1N1)pdm09 virus showed a lower mobility rate than the North America triple-reassortant influenza M2 protein in Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis (PAGE). The site-directed mutations of the amino acids of (H1N1)pdm09 M2 revealed that E79 is responsible for the mobility rate change. Further animal studies showed that the (H1N1)pdm09 containing a single M2-E79K was significantly attenuated compared with the wild-type virus in mice and induced lower proinflammatory cytokines and IFNs in mouse lungs. Further in vitro studies indicated that this mutation also affected NLRP3 inflammasome activation. To reveal the reason why they have different mobility rates, a circular dichroism spectra assay was employed and showed that the two M2 proteins displayed different secondary structures. Overall, our findings suggest that M2 E79 is important for the virus replication and pathogenicity of (H1N1)pdm09 through NLRP3 inflammasome and proinflammatory response.

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