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Using common spatial distributions of atoms to relate functionally divergent influenza virus N10 and N11 protein structures to functionally characterized neuraminidase structures, toxin cell entry domains, and non-influenza virus cell entry domains

Using common spatial distributions of atoms to relate functionally divergent influenza virus N10 and N11 protein structures to functionally characterized neuraminidase structures, toxin cell entry domains, and non-influenza virus cell entry domains

Plos one 10(2): E0117499

ISSN/ISBN: 1932-6203

PMID: 25706124

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117499

The ability to identify the functional correlates of structural and sequence variation in proteins is a critical capability. We related structures of influenza A N10 and N11 proteins that have no established function to structures of proteins with known function by identifying spatially conserved atoms. We identified atoms with common distributed spatial occupancy in PDB structures of N10 protein, N11 protein, an influenza A neuraminidase, an influenza B neuraminidase, and a bacterial neuraminidase. By superposing these spatially conserved atoms, we aligned the structures and associated molecules. We report spatially and sequence invariant residues in the aligned structures. Spatially invariant residues in the N6 and influenza B neuraminidase active sites were found in previously unidentified spatially equivalent sites in the N10 and N11 proteins. We found the corresponding secondary and tertiary structures of the aligned proteins to be largely identical despite significant sequence divergence. We found structural precedent in known non-neuraminidase structures for residues exhibiting structural and sequence divergence in the aligned structures. In N10 protein, we identified staphylococcal enterotoxin I-like domains. In N11 protein, we identified hepatitis E E2S-like domains, SARS spike protein-like domains, and toxin components shared by alpha-bungarotoxin, staphylococcal enterotoxin I, anthrax lethal factor, clostridium botulinum neurotoxin, and clostridium tetanus toxin. The presence of active site components common to the N6, influenza B, and S. pneumoniae neuraminidases in the N10 and N11 proteins, combined with the absence of apparent neuraminidase function, suggests that the role of neuraminidases in H17N10 and H18N11 emerging influenza A viruses may have changed. The presentation of E2S-like, SARS spike protein-like, or toxin-like domains by the N10 and N11 proteins in these emerging viruses may indicate that H17N10 and H18N11 sialidase-facilitated cell entry has been supplemented or replaced by sialidase-independent receptor binding to an expanded cell population that may include neurons and T-cells.

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