Conformational analysis of the full-length M2 protein of the influenza A virus using solid-state NMR



The influenza A M2 protein forms a proton channel for virus infection and mediates virus assembly and budding. While extensive structural information is known about the transmembrane helix and an adjacent amphipathic helix, the conformation of the N-terminal ectodomain and the C-terminal cytoplasmic tail remains largely unknown. Using two-dimensional (2D) magic-angle-spinning solid-state NMR, we have investigated the secondary structure and dynamics of full-length M2 (M2FL) and found them to depend on the membrane composition. In 2D 13C DARR correlation spectra, 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC)-bound M2FL exhibits several peaks at β-sheet chemical shifts, which result from water-exposed extramembrane residues. In contrast, M2FL bound to cholesterol-containing membranes gives predominantly α-helical chemical shifts. Two-dimensional J-INADEQUATE spectra and variable-temperature 13C spectra indicate that DMPC-bound M2FL is highly dynamic while the cholesterol-containing membranes significantly immobilize the protein at physiological temperature. Chemical-shift prediction for various secondary-structure models suggests that the β-strand is located at the N-terminus of the DMPC-bound protein, while the cytoplasmic domain is unstructured. This prediction is confirmed by the 2D DARR spectrum of the ectodomain-truncated M2(21–97), which no longer exhibits β-sheet chemical shifts in the DMPC-bound state. We propose that the M2 conformational change results from the influence of cholesterol, and the increased helicity of M2FL in cholesterol-rich membranes may be relevant for M2 interaction with the matrix protein M1 during virus assembly and budding. The successful determination of the β-strand location suggests that chemical-shift prediction is a promising approach for obtaining structural information of disordered proteins before resonance assignment.