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Sci Rep. 2013;3:2389. doi: 10.1038/srep02389.

Arginine insertion and loss of N-linked glycosylation site in HIV-1 envelope V3 region confer CXCR4-tropism.

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  • 1AIDS Clinical Center, National Center for Global Health and Medicine, 1-21-1 Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8655, Japan.


The third variable region (V3) of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120 plays a key role in determination of viral coreceptor usage (tropism). However, which combinations of mutations in V3 confer a tropism shift is still unclear. A unique pattern of mutations in antiretroviral therapy-naive HIV-1 patient was observed associated with the HIV-1 tropism shift CCR5 to CXCR4. The insertion of arginine at position 11 and the loss of the N-linked glycosylation site were indispensable for acquiring pure CXCR4-tropism, which were confirmed by cell-cell fusion assay and phenotype analysis of recombinant HIV-1 variants. The same pattern of mutations in V3 and the associated tropism shift were identified in two of 53 other patients (3.8%) with CD4(+) cell count <200/mm(3). The combination of arginine insertion and loss of N-linked glycosylation site usually confers CXCR4-tropism. Awareness of this rule will help to confirm the tropism prediction from V3 sequences by conventional rules.

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