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PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23521. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023521. Epub 2011 Aug 16.

The glycan shield of HIV is predominantly oligomannose independently of production system or viral clade.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Oxford Glycobiology Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


The N-linked oligomannose glycans of HIV gp120 are a target for both microbicide and vaccine design. The extent of cross-clade conservation of HIV oligomannose glycans is therefore a critical consideration for the development of HIV prophylaxes. We measured the oligomannose content of virion-associated gp120 from primary virus from PBMCs for a range of viral isolates and showed cross-clade elevation (62-79%) of these glycans relative to recombinant, monomeric gp120 (∼30%). We also confirmed that pseudoviral production systems can give rise to notably elevated gp120 oligomannose levels (∼98%), compared to gp120 derived from a single-plasmid viral system using the HIV(LAI) backbone (56%). This study highlights differences in glycosylation between virion-associated and recombinant gp120.

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