The 1−127 HA2 Construct of Influenza Virus Hemagglutinin Induces Cell−Cell Hemifusion Academic Article uri icon

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  • Conformational changes in the HA2 subunit of influenza hemagglutinin (HA) are coupled to membrane fusion. We investigated the fusogenic activity of the polypeptide FHA2 representing 127 amino-terminal residues of the ectodomain of HA2. While the conformation of FHA2 both at neutral and at low pH is nearly identical to the final low-pH conformation of HA2, FHA2 still induces lipid mixing between liposomes in a low-pH-dependent manner. Here, we found that FHA2 induces lipid mixing between bound cells, indicating that the "spring-loaded" energy is not required for FHA2-mediated membrane merger. Although, unlike HA, FHA2 did not form an expanding fusion pore, both acidic pH and membrane concentrations of FHA2, required for lipid mixing, have been close to those required for HA-mediated fusion. Similar to what is observed for HA, FHA2-induced lipid mixing was reversibly blocked by lysophosphatidylcholine and low temperature, 4 degrees C. The same genetic modification of the fusion peptide inhibits both HA- and FHA2-fusogenic activities. The kink region of FHA2, critical for FHA2-mediated lipid mixing, was exposed in the low-pH conformation of the whole HA prior to fusion. The ability of FHA2 to mediate lipid mixing very similar to HA-mediated lipid mixing is consistent with the hypothesis that hemifusion requires just a portion of the energy released in the conformational change of HA at acidic pH.


  • Leikina, Eugenia
  • LeDuc, Danika L
  • Macosko, Jed C
  • Epand, Raquel
  • Epand, Richard
  • Shin, Yeon-Kyun
  • Chernomordik, Leonid V

publication date

  • July 2001

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