The M2 proton channel is essential for the replication of the flu virus and is a known drug target. The functional mechanism of channel activation and conductance is key to both the basic biology of viral replication and the design of drugs that can withstand mutations. A quantitative model was previously developed for calculating the rate of proton transport through the M2 channel. The permeant proton was assumed to diffuse to the pore, obligatorily bind to the His37 tetrad, and then dissociate and be released to either side of the tetrad. Here the model is used to calculate the effect of a change in solvent from H2O to D2O on the rate of proton transport. The solvent substitution affects two parameters in the model: the proton diffusion constant and the pK a for proton binding to the His37 tetrad. When the known effects on these two parameters are included, the deuterium isotope effect calculated from the model is in quantitatively agreement with experimental results. This strict test of the theoretical model provides strong support for the hypothesis that the permeant proton obligatorily binds to and then unbinds from the His37 tetrad. This putatively essential role of the His37 tetrad in the functional mechanism of the M2 channel makes it a promising target for designing mutation-tolerant drugs.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 1, 2011
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