Influenza hemagglutinins outside of the contact zone are necessary for fusion pore expansion

Eugenia Leikina, Aditya Mittal, Myoung Soon Cho, Kamran Melikov, Michael M. Kozlov, Leonid V. Chernomordik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current models for membrane fusion in diverse biological processes are focused on the local action of fusion proteins present in the contact zone where the proteins anchored in one membrane might interact directly with the other membrane. Are the fusion proteins outside of the contact zone just bystanders? Here we assess the role of these "outsider" proteins in influenza virus hemagglutinin-mediated fusion between red blood cells and either hemagglutinin-expressing cells or viral particles. To selectively inhibit or enhance the actions of hemagglutinin outsiders, the antibodies that bind to hemagglutinin and proteases that cleave it were conjugated to polystyrene microspheres too large to enter the contact zone. We also involved hemagglutinin outsiders into interactions with additional red blood cells. We find the hemagglutinin outsiders to be necessary and sufficient for fusion. Interfering with the activity of the hemagglutinin outsiders inhibited fusion. Selective conversion of hemagglutinin outsiders alone into fusion-competent conformation was sufficient to achieve fusion. The discovered functional role of fusion proteins located outside of the contact zone suggests a tempting analogy to mechanisms by which proteins mediate membrane fission from outside of the fission site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26526-26532
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number25
StatePublished - 18 Jun 2004


FundersFunder number
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentZ01HD001501


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