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Fatty acids on the A/Japan/305/57 influenza virus hemagglutinin have a role in membrane fusion.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


The covalent attachment of fatty acid moieties to proteins is a widespread post-translational modification of viral and cell proteins yet the functional consequences of acylation are not well understood. We have determined that the A/Japan/305/57 influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) contains three potential acylation sites at cysteine residues 211, 218 and 221 in the cytoplasmic domain of the molecule. Site-directed mutagenesis of one or more of these sites has no effect on biosynthesis, transport or receptor binding activity of the molecule; however, modification of any single site is sufficient to abolish completely or inhibit severely membrane fusion activity, a function essential for virus infectivity. We present a molecular model of the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains of the HA to illustrate the potential orientation of these fatty acids and to provide a conceptual framework for further experimentation.

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