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J Virol. 1991 Sep;65(9):4777-85.

Recombinant CD4-selected human immunodeficiency virus type 1 variants with reduced gp120 affinity for CD4 and increased cell fusion capacity.

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  • 1Chester Beatty Laboratories, Institute of Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom.


Variants of molecularly cloned human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) were analyzed following selection for the ability to replicate after exposure to soluble, recombinant CD4 protein (rCD4). Two variants, 4/1 and 16/2, show 8-fold and 16-fold reduced sensitivity to rCD4 neutralization yet remain as sensitive as the parental wild-type (wt) virus to neutralization by rCD4-immunoglobulin G (IgG) chimeric molecules and to inhibition of cellular infection by anti-CD4 antibody. The 4/1 variant is more cytopathic, with faster cell fusion and replication kinetics than the wt virus. The gp120s derived from the 4/1 and 16/2 variants have 3-fold and 30-fold reduced binding affinities to rCD4, respectively. The 4/1 variant exhibits diminished shedding of virion gp120 induced by rCD4. The binding of and neutralization by V3 loop antibodies and other anti-gp120 antibodies is reduced for 4/1 but not for 16/2. Sequence analysis revealed a codon change at amino acid residue 435 in the C4 region of the gp120 of 16/2. This accounts for its rCD4 insensitivity, since the insertion of this mutation in the wt gp120 yields the same phenotype. The 4/1 variant has a codon change in the V3 region of gp120 (amino acid 311), which accounts for its reduced sensitivity to some neutralizing antibodies but not to rCD4. The ready selection of rCD4-resistant variants has obvious relevance for rCD4-based therapeutic stratagems.

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