The Journal of Biological Chemistry
Only Two Residues Are Responsible for the Dramatic Difference in Receptor Binding between Swine and New Pandemic H1 Hemagglutinin*
In view of its critical role in influenza A virus (IAV) tropism and pathogenesis, we evaluated the receptor binding properties of HA proteins of the closely related swine and new pandemic human IAVs. We generated recombinant soluble trimeric H1 ectodomains of several IAVs and analyzed their sialic acid binding properties using fetuin-binding and glycan array analysis. The results show that closely related swine and new pandemic H1 proteins differ dramatically in their ability to bind these receptors. Although new pandemic H1 protein exhibited hardly any binding, swine H1 bound efficiently to a number of α2–6-linked sialyl glycans. The responsible amino acids were identified by analyzing chimeric H1 proteins and by performing systematic site-directed mutagenesis of swine and new pandemic human H1 proteins. The difference was found to map to residues at positions 200 and 227. Although substitution of either residue significantly affected the binding phenotype, substitution of both was found to act synergistically and reverse the phenotype almost completely. Modeling of the T200A and E227A substitutions into the crystal structure of the new pandemic human H1 protein revealed the loss of potential hydrogen bond formation with Gln191, which is part of the 190-loop of the receptor binding site, and with the penultimate galactose, respectively. Thus, a residue not belonging to the receptor binding site may affect the interaction of HA with its receptor. Interestingly, whereas alanine at position 200 is found in most new pandemic human viruses, the residue at position 227 in these viruses is invariably a glutamic acid.
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