Matsuzaki Y, Goto T, Sugawara K, Hongo S, Sho R, Muraki Y, Shimotai Y
CM2 is the second membrane protein of the influenza C virus and has been demonstrated to play a role in the uncoating and genome packaging processes in influenza C virus replication. Although the effects of N-linked glycosylation, disulfide-linked oligomerization, and palmitoylation of CM2 on virus replication have been analyzed, the effect of the phosphorylation of CM2 on virus replication remains to be determined. In this study, phosphorylation site(s) at residues 78 and/or 103 of CM2 were substituted with alanine residue(s) and the effects of the loss of phosphorylation on influenza C virus replication were analyzed. No significant differences were observed in the packaging of the reporter gene between influenza C virus-like particles (VLPs) produced from 293T cells expressing wild-type CM2 and those from the cells expressing the CM2 mutants lacking the phosphorylation site(s). Reporter gene expression in HMV-II cells infected with VLPs containing the CM2 mutants was inhibited in comparison with that in cells infected with wild-type VLPs. The virus production of the recombinant influenza C virus possessing CM2 mutants containing a serine-to-alanine substitution at residue 78 was significantly lower than that of wild-type recombinant influenza C virus. Furthermore, the virus growth of the recombinant viruses possessing CM2 with a serine-to-aspartic acid substitution at position 78, to mimic constitutive phosphorylation, was virtually identical to that of the wild-type virus. These results suggest that phosphorylation of CM2 plays a role in efficient virus replication, probably through the addition of a negative charge to the Ser78 phosphorylation site.IMPORTANCE It is well-known that many host and viral proteins are post-translationally modified by phosphorylation, which plays a role in the functions of these proteins. In influenza A and B viruses, phosphorylation of viral proteins, NP, M1, NS1 and NEP, which are not integrated into the membranes, affects the functions of these proteins, thereby affecting virus replication. However, it was reported that phosphorylation of influenza A virus M2 ion channel protein, which is integrated into the membrane, has no effect on virus replication in vitro or in vivo We previously demonstrated that influenza C virus CM2 ion channel protein is modified by N-glycosylation, oligomerization, palmitoylation, and phosphorylation, and have analyzed the effects of these modifications, except phosphorylation, on virus replication. This is the first report demonstrating that phosphorylation of the influenza C virus CM2 ion channel protein, unlike the influenza A virus M2 protein, plays a role in virus replication.