Recent progress in designing inhibitors that target the drug-resistant M2 proton channels from the influenza A viruses

Biopolymers. 2015 Jul;104(4):291-309. doi: 10.1002/bip.22623.


Influenza viruses are the causative agents for seasonal influenza, which results in thousands of deaths and millions of hospitalizations each year. Moreover, sporadic transmission of avian or swan influenza viruses to humans often leads to an influenza pandemic, as there is no preimmunity in the human body to fight against such novel strains. The metastable genome of the influenza viruses, coupled with the reassortment of different strains from a wide range of host origins, leads to the continuous evolution of the influenza virus diversity. Such characteristics of influenza viruses present a grand challenge in devising therapeutic strategies to combat influenza virus infection. This review summarizes recent progress in designing small molecule inhibitors that target the drug-resistant influenza A virus M2 proton channels and highlights the contribution of mechanistic studies of proton conductance to drug discovery. The lessons learned throughout the course of M2 drug discovery might provide insights for designing inhibitors that target other therapeutically important ion channels.

Keywords: M2; S31N; adamantane; antiviral resistance; influenza; proton channel.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents* / chemical synthesis
  • Antiviral Agents* / chemistry
  • Antiviral Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus*
  • Influenza, Human / drug therapy*
  • Influenza, Human / metabolism
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • M2 protein, Influenza A virus
  • Viral Matrix Proteins