The structure, function, and pathobiology of the influenza A and B virus ion channels

Robert A. Lamb*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Influenza A virus AM2 protein is an integral membrane protein that is an ion channel (also known as a viroporin). The channel has 24 extracellular residues, 19 residues that span the membrane once and acts as both the channel pore and also the membrane anchoring domain, and a 54-residue cytoplasmic tail. The M2 protein has four identical chains linked via two disulfide bonds that form a four-helix bundle that is 107 –108 more permeable to protons than Na+ ions. The M2 channel is activated by low pH, His residue 37 is the pH sensor, and Trp residue 41 is the channel gate. The channel is blocked by the antiviral drug amantadine hydrochloride. The influenza B virus BM2 protein does not have homology with the AM2 channel, but BM2 does have the His proton sensor, Trp gate, and is activated by low pH. It is thought that the AM2 and BM2 proteins have common functions in the influenza A and B virus life cycles. Both BM2 and AM2 also facilitate virus budding. The amphipathic helix in the AM2 cytoplasmic tail has an important role in the assembly of the virus, and functional AM2 protein makes the virus independent of the “endosomal sorting complex required for transport” (ESCRT) complex scission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbera038505
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalCold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The structure, function, and pathobiology of the influenza A and B virus ion channels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this