The matrix protein M1 of the Influenza A virus is considered to mediate viral assembly and budding at the plasma membrane (PM) of infected cells. In order for a new viral particle to form, the PM lipid bilayer has to bend into a vesicle towards the extracellular side. Studies in cellular models have proposed that different viral proteins might be responsible for inducing membrane curvature in this context (including M1), but a clear consensus has not been reached. In this study, we use a combination of fluorescence microscopy, cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM), cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) and scanning fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (sFCS) to investigate M1-induced membrane deformation in biophysical models of the PM. Our results indicate that M1 is indeed capable to cause membrane curvature in lipid bilayers containing negatively-charged lipids, in the absence of other viral components. Furthermore, we prove that simple protein binding is not sufficient to induce membrane restructuring. Rather, it appears that stable M1-M1 interactions and multimer formation are required in order to alter the bilayer three-dimensional structure, through the formation of a protein scaffold. Finally, our results suggest that, in a physiological context, M1-induced membrane deformation might be modulated by the initial bilayer curvature and the lateral organization of membrane components (i.e. the presence of lipid domains).
Ismail Dahmani, Kai Ludwig, Salvatore Chiantia
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