The influenza A virus M2 protein is an integral membrane protein of 97 amino acids that is expressed at the surface of infected cells with an extracellular N-terminal domain of 18 to 23 amino acid residues, an internal hydrophobic domain of approximately 19 residues, and a C-terminal cytoplasmic domain of 54 residues. To gain an understanding of the M2 protein function in the influenza virus replicative pathway, we produced and characterized a monoclonal antibody to M2. The antibody-binding site was located to the extracellular N terminus of M2 as shown by the loss of recognition after proteolysis at the infected-cell surface, which removes 18 N-terminal residues, and by the finding that the antibody recognizes M2 in cell surface fluorescence. The epitope was further defined to involve residues 11 and 14 by comparing the predicted amino acid sequences of M2 from several avian and human strains and the ability of the M2 protein to be recognized by the antibody. The M2-specific monoclonal antibody was used in a sensitive immunoblot assay to show that M2 protein could be detected in virion preparations. Quantitation of the amount of M2 associated with virions by two unrelated methods indicated that in the virion preparations used there are 14 to 68 molecules of M2 per virion. The monoclonal antibody, when included in a plaque assay overlay, considerably slowed the growth of some influenza virus strains. This plaque size reduction is a specific effect for the M2 antibody as determined by an analysis of recombinants with defined genome composition and by the observation that competition by an N-terminal peptide prevents the antibody restriction of virus growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science