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J Virol. 1991 Oct;65(10):5491-8.

Evolutionary analysis of the influenza A virus M gene with comparison of the M1 and M2 proteins.

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Department of Virology and Molecular Biology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38101-0318.


Phylogenetic analysis of 42 membrane protein (M) genes of influenza A viruses from a variety of hosts and geographic locations showed that these genes have evolved into at least four major host-related lineages: (i) A/Equine/prague/56, which has the most divergent M gene; (ii) a lineage containing only H13 gull viruses; (iii) a lineage containing both human and classical swine viruses; and (iv) an avian lineage subdivided into North American avian viruses (including recent equine viruses) and Old World avian viruses (including avianlike swine strains). The M gene evolutionary tree differs from those published for other influenza virus genes (e.g., PB1, PB2, PA, and NP) but shows the most similarity to the NP gene phylogeny. Separate analyses of the M1 and M2 genes and their products revealed very different patterns of evolution. Compared with other influenza virus genes (e.g., PB2 and NP), the M1 and M2 genes are evolving relatively slowly, especially the M1 gene. The M1 and M2 gene products, which are encoded in different but partially overlapping reading frames, revealed that the M1 protein is evolving very slowly in all lineages, whereas the M2 protein shows significant evolution in human and swine lineages but virtually none in avian lineages. The evolutionary rates of the M1 proteins were much lower than those of M2 proteins and other internal proteins of influenza viruses (e.g., PB2 and NP), while M2 proteins showed less rapid evolution compared with other surface proteins (e.g., H3HA). Our results also indicate that for influenza A viruses, the evolution of one protein of a bicistronic gene can affect the evolution of the other protein.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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