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Biophys J. 2002 Feb;82(2):569-81.

Functional motions of influenza virus hemagglutinin: a structure-based analytical approach.

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Polymer Research Center and Chemical Engineering Department, Bogazici University, Bebek 80815, Istanbul, Turkey.


Influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA), a homotrimeric integral membrane glycoprotein essential for viral infection, is engaged in two biological functions: recognition of target cells' receptor proteins and fusion of viral and endosomal membranes, both requiring substantial conformational flexibility from the part of the glycoprotein. The different modes of collective motions underlying the functional mobility/adaptability of the protein are determined in the present study using an extension of the Gaussian network model (GNM) to treat concerted anisotropic motions. We determine the molecular mechanisms that may underlie HA function, along with the structural regions or residues whose mutations are expected to impede function. Good agreement between theoretically predicted fluctuations of individual residues and corresponding x-ray crystallographic temperature factors is found, which lends support to the GNM elucidation of the conformational dynamics of HA by focusing upon a subset of dominant modes. The lowest frequency mode indicates a global torsion of the HA trimer about its longitudinal axis, accompanied by a substantial mobility at the viral membrane connection. This mode is proposed to constitute the dominant molecular mechanism for the translocation and aggregation of HAs, and for the opening and dilation of the fusion pore. The second and third collective modes indicate a global bending, allowing for a large lateral surface exposure, which is likely to facilitate the close association of the viral and endosomal membranes before pore opening. The analysis of kinetically hot residues, in contrast, reveals a localization of energy centered around the HA2 residue Asp112, which apparently triggers the solvent exposure of the fusion peptide.

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