Journal of virology 2016 12 1691(1) pii e01757-16
Influenza A virus (IAV) matrix protein 2 (M2) plays multiple roles in the early and late phases of viral infection. Once synthesized, M2 is translocated to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), travels to the Golgi apparatus, and is sorted at the trans-Golgi network (TGN) for transport to the apical plasma membrane, where it functions in virus budding. We hypothesized that M2 trafficking along with its secretory pathway must be finely regulated, and host factors could be involved in this process. However, no studies examining the role of host factors in M2 posttranslational transport have been reported. Here, we used a yeast two-hybrid (Y2H) system to screen for host proteins that interact with the M2 protein and identified transport protein particle complex 6A (TRAPPC6A) as a potential binding partner. We found that both TRAPPC6A and its N-terminal internal-deletion isoform, TRAPPC6A delta (TRAPPC6AΔ), interact with M2. Truncation and mutation analyses showed that the highly conserved leucine residue at position 96 of M2 is critical for mediating this interaction. The role of TRAPPC6AΔ in the viral life cycle was investigated by the knockdown of endogenous TRAPPC6AΔ with small interfering RNA (siRNA) and by generating a recombinant virus that was unable to interact with TRAPPC6A/TRAPPC6AΔ. The results indicated that TRAPPC6AΔ, through its interaction with M2, slows M2 trafficking to the apical plasma membrane, favors viral replication in vitro, and positively modulates virus virulence in mice.
The influenza A virus M2 protein regulates the trafficking of not only other proteins but also itself along the secretory pathway. However, the host factors involved in the regulation of the posttranslational transport of M2 are largely unknown. In this study, we identified TRAPPC6A and its N-terminal internal-deletion isoform, TRAPPC6AΔ, as interacting partners of M2. We found that the leucine (L) residue at position 96 of M2 is critical for mediating this interaction, which leads us to propose that the high level of conservation of 96L is a consequence of M2 adaptation to its interacting host factor TRAPPC6A/TRAPPC6AΔ. Importantly, we discovered that TRAPPC6AΔ can positively regulate viral replication in vitro by modulating M2 trafficking to the plasma membrane.