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J Virol. 1990 Jan;64(1):215-21.

Failure of human immunodeficiency virus entry and infection in CD4-positive human brain and skin cells.

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  • 1National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Hamilton, Montana 59840.


CD4 molecules on human cells function as a major receptor for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); however, certain CD4-negative cell types may also be susceptible to infection. Therefore, we attempted to quantitate the relationship between HIV infection and CD4 expression on human cell lines before and after introduction of the CD4 gene by using a retrovirus vector. Prior to introduction of the CD4 expression vector, low levels of HIV infection were detected by a sensitive focal immunoassay on all three cell types studied. With several HIV strains in clones of human cervical carcinoma (HeLa) cells expressing different levels of CD4, HIV titer increased with increasing CD4 expression. In contrast, in squamous cell carcinoma cells (SCL1) and astroglial cells (U87MG), even high levels of CD4 expression failed to augment HIV infection. The CD4 protein expressed in these two cell lines had the expected molecular weight and was capable of binding HIV virions. However, in contrast to CD4-positive HeLa cells, CD4-positive U87MG and SCL1 cells were unable to form syncytia when cultured with cells expressing HIV envelope protein. Thus, the inability of HIV to infect these cells appeared to be due to lack of fusion between HIV virion envelope proteins and CD4-positive cell membranes. This block is infectivity was overcome when cells were infected with HIV which was pseudotyped with the envelope protein of amphotropic murine leukemia virus. Thus, in addition to CD4, other cell surface molecules appear to be required for successful HIV entry into and infection of these two human cell lines.

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