Influenza A is involved in hundreds of thousands of deaths globally every year resulting from viral infection-related complications. Previous efforts to subdue the virus by preventing proper function of wild-type (WT) neuraminidase (N), and M2 proteins using oseltamivir and amantadine (AMT) or rimantadine (RMT), respectively, exhibited success initially. Over time, these drugs began exhibiting mixed success as the virus developed drug resistance. M2 is a proton channel responsible for the acidification of the viral interior which facilitates release of the viral RNA into the host. M2 has a His37-tetrad that is the selective filter for protons. This protein has been demonstrated to be a feasible target for organic compounds. However, due to a mutation from serine to asparagine at residue 31 of M2, which is found in the majority of influenza strains circulating in humans, AMT and RMT block is insufficient. From simulations, it is unclear whether the insensitivity results from weak binding or incomplete block. The question of how the S31N mutation caused MT and RMT insensitivity in M2 is addressed here by analyzing the binding kinetics of AMT and RMT using the two-electrode voltage clamp electrophysiology method. The dissociation rate constant (k2) is dramatically increased compared to WT for both AMT and RMT, by 1500-fold and 17000-fold respectively. Testing of AMT at 10 mM demonstrates complete block, albeit weak, of the S31N M2 channel. At 10 mM, RMT does not reach complete block even though the binding site is saturated. When RMT is in the bound state, it is not blocking all the current, and is binding without block. These results motivated the development of novel M2 blockers using copper complexes focusing on the His37 complex in M2. I hypothesized that copper complexes would bind with the imidazole of a histidine in the His37 complex and prevent proton conductance. The His37 complex is highly conserved in the M2 channel and, therefore, would be important target for influenza therapeutics. By derivatizing the amines of known M2 blockers, AMT and cyclooctyalmine, to form the iminodiacetate or iminodiacetamide, we have synthesized Cu(II) containing complexes and characterized them by NMR, IR, MS, UV–vis, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS). The copper complexes, but not the copper-free ligands, demonstrated H37-specific blocking of M2 channel currents and low micromolar anti-viral efficacies in both Amt-sensitive and Amt-resistant IAV strains with, for the best case, nearly 10-fold less cytotoxicity than CuCl2. Isothermal titration calorimetry was used to obtain enthalpies that showed the copper complexes bind to one imidazole and curve fitting to the electrophysiology data provided rate constants for binding in the M2 channel. Computational chemistry was used to obtain binding geometries and energies of the copper complexes to the His37-tetrad. The results show that the copper complexes do bind with the His37 complex and prevent proton conductance and influenza infection.



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Life Sciences; Physiology and Developmental Biology



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influenza A virus, matrix protein 2, quantum mechanics, quantum chemical model, copper complexes, two-electrode voltage clamp, Isothermal titration calorimetry, cytopathic effect assay, miniplaque assay, molecular dynamics, zebrafish



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