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Virology. 1992 Sep;190(1):11-8.

Maturation of influenza A virus hemagglutinin--estimates of the pH encountered during transport and its regulation by the M2 protein.

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National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London, U.K.


The susceptibility of H7 influenza A viruses to the M2-mediated alteration in HA resulting from treatment with amantadine or rimantadine depends both on the pH stability of HA and the pH encountered during transport to the plasma membrane of the particular virus-infected cell. pH stabilities of a range of virus mutant HAs exhibited an inverse correlation with drug sensitivity and the proportion of low-pH HA expressed on the surface of infected cells in the absence of drug. The lowest pH encountered during transport was thus estimated from the proportion of HA expressed in its native conformation and its pH stability profile. Lower drug sensitivity and improved HA maturation of MDCK cells compared to that in CEF reflect the higher pH within the appropriate compartment of the former. Differences in apparent pH resulting from infection with two closely related virus strains, Rostock or Weybridge, e.g., approximately 6.0 and 5.4, respectively, in CEF, were abrogated by rimantadine treatment (pH approximately 5.2 in CEF) and were attributable to intrinsic properties of their respective M2 proteins. The greater activity of the Rostock M2, which was estimated to be capable of increasing vesicular pH by as much as 0.8 pH units, correlates with the lower pH stability of the HA. This emphasizes the essential relationship between the characteristics of the two virus proteins as well as the subtle role of M2 in regulating the pH of the transport pathway to protect the structural integrity of the hemagglutinin glycoprotein.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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