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Virology. 1992 Sep;190(1):485-9.

The transmembrane domain of influenza A M2 protein forms amantadine-sensitive proton channels in planar lipid bilayers.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Edinburgh, U.K.


In a direct test of the hypothesis that the M2 coat protein of influenza A can function as a proton translocator, we incorporated a synthetic peptide containing its putative transmembrane domain into voltage-clamped planar lipid bilayers. We observed single proton-selective ion channels with a conductance of approximately 10 pS at a pH of 2.3, consistent with the association of several monomers around a central water-filled pore. The channels were reversibly blocked by the anti-influenza drug amantadine. These experiments imply a central role for M2 protein in virus replication and assembly and may explain the mechanism of action of amantadine. Analogous proteins may have a similar function in other viruses, and these may be susceptible to similar antiviral agents.

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