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J Virol. 2005 Oct;79(19):12575-83.

Identification of two N-linked glycosylation sites within the core of the simian immunodeficiency virus glycoprotein whose removal enhances sensitivity to soluble CD4.

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  • 1New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, One Pine Hill Drive, Southborough, MA 01722, USA.


Using PCR mutagenesis to disrupt the NXT/S N-linked glycosylation motif of the Env protein, we created 27 mutants lacking 1 to 5 of 14 N-linked glycosylation sites within regions of gp120 lying outside of variable loops 1 to 4 within simian immunodeficiency virus strain 239 (SIV239). Of 18 mutants missing N-linked glycosylation sites predicted to lie within 10 A of CD4 contact sites, the infectivity of 12 was sufficient to measure sensitivity to neutralization by soluble CD4 (sCD4), pooled immune sera from SIV239-infected rhesus macaques, and monoclonal antibodies known to neutralize certain derivatives of SIV239. Three of these 12 mutants (g3, lacking the 3rd glycan at position 79; g11, lacking the 11th glycan at position 212; and g3,11, lacking both the 3rd and 11th glycans) were approximately five times more sensitive to neutralization by sCD4 than wild-type (WT) SIV239. However, these same mutants were no more sensitive to neutralization than WT by pooled immune sera. The other 9 of 12 replication-competent mutants in this group were no more sensitive to neutralization than the WT by any of the neutralizing reagents. Six of the nine mutants that did not replicate appreciably had three or more glycosylation sites eliminated; the other three replication-deficient strains involved mutation of site 15. Our results suggest that elimination of glycan attachment sites 3 and 11 enhanced the exposure of contact residues for CD4. Thus, glycans at positions 3 and 11 of SIV239 gp120 may be particularly important for shielding the CD4-binding site from antibody recognition.

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