The M2 protein of influenza A virus is a membrane-spanning tetrameric proton channel targeted by the antiviral drugs amantadine and rimantadine. Resistance to these drugs has compromised their effectiveness against many influenza strains, including pandemic H1N1. A recent crystal structure of M2(22-46) showed electron densities attributed to a single amantadine in the amino-terminal half of the pore, indicating a physical occlusion mechanism for inhibition. However, a solution NMR structure of M2(18-60) showed four rimantadines bound to the carboxy-terminal lipid-facing surface of the helices, suggesting an allosteric mechanism. Here we show by solid-state NMR spectroscopy that two amantadine-binding sites exist in M2 in phospholipid bilayers. The high-affinity site, occupied by a single amantadine, is located in the N-terminal channel lumen, surrounded by residues mutated in amantadine-resistant viruses. Quantification of the protein-amantadine distances resulted in a 0.3-resolution structure of the high-affinity binding site. The second, low-affinity, site was observed on the C-terminal protein surface, but only when the drug reaches high concentrations in the bilayer. The orientation and dynamics of the drug are distinct in the two sites, as shown by 2 H NMR. These results indicate that amantadine physically occludes the M2 channel, thus paving the way for developing new antiviral drugs against influenza viruses. The study demonstrates the ability of solid-state NMR to elucidate small-molecule interactions with membrane proteins and determine high-resolution structures of their complexes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas