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Virology. 2004 Mar 30;321(1):144-53.

The M1 matrix protein controls the filamentous phenotype of influenza A virus.

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  • 1School of Animal and Microbial Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AJ, UK.


We show that most isolates of influenza A induce filamentous changes in infected cells in contrast to A/WSN/33 and A/PR8/34 strains which have undergone extensive laboratory passage and are mouse-adapted. Using reverse genetics, we created recombinant viruses in the naturally filamentous genetic background of A/Victoria/3/75 and established that this property is regulated by the M1 protein sequence, but that the phenotype is complex and several residues are involved. The filamentous phenotype was lost when the amino acid at position 41 was switched from A to V, at the same time, this recombinant virus also became insensitive to the antibody 14C2. On the other hand, the filamentous phenotype could be fully transferred to a virus containing RNA segment 7 of the A/WSN/33 virus by a combination of three mutations in both the amino and carboxy regions of the M1 protein. This observation suggests that an interaction among these regions of M1 may occur during assembly.

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