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J Virol. 2000 Jan;74(2):1004-7.

A human milk factor susceptible to cathepsin D inhibitors enhances human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infectivity and allows virus entry into a mammary epithelial cell line.

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  • 1Department of Applied Genetics, Faculty of Science, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) growth in lymphocyte cultures was increased when the virus inoculum was incubated in breast milk. The enhancing effect of milk was abolished by anti-cathepsin D antibody or by pepstatin A, a cathepsin D inhibitor. The cathepsin D-producing CD4-negative MCF7 mammary cells supported the growth of some HIV-1 isolates. An MCF7 line chronically producing HIV-1 IIIb was obtained. Cathepsin D may induce conformational modification of viral gp120, allowing direct interaction with a coreceptor. We demonstrated the presence of CXCR4 mRNA in MCF7 cells.

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