Together with the influenza A virus, influenza B virus causes seasonal flu epidemics. The M2 protein of influenza B (BM2) forms a tetrameric proton-conducting channel that is important for the virus lifecycle. BM2 shares little sequence homology with AM2, except for a conserved HxxxW motif in the transmembrane (TM) domain. Unlike AM2, no antiviral drugs have been developed to block the BM2 channel. To elucidate the proton-conduction mechanism of BM2 and to facilitate the development of BM2 inhibitors, we have employed solid-state NMR spectroscopy to investigate the conformation, dynamics, and hydration of the BM2 TM domain in lipid bilayers. BM2 adopts an α-helical conformation in lipid membranes. At physiological temperature and low pH, the proton-selective residue, His19, shows relatively narrow 15N chemical exchange peaks for the imidazole nitrogens, indicating fast proton shuttling that interconverts cationic and neutral histidines. Importantly, pH-dependent 15N chemical shifts indicate that His19 retains the neutral population to much lower pH than His37 in AM2, indicating larger acid-dissociation constants or lower pKa's. We attribute these dynamical and equilibrium differences to the presence of a second titratable histidine, His27, which may increase the proton-dissociation rate of His19. Two-dimensional 1H-13C correlation spectra probing water 1H polarization transfer to the peptide indicates that the BM2 channel becomes much more hydrated at low pH than at high pH, particularly at Ser12, indicating that the pore-facing serine residues in BM2 mediate proton relay to the proton-selective histidine.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry