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Curr Biol. 2000 Aug 24;10(16):1005-8.

Endocytic entry of HIV-1.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, 94143-0703, USA.


Enveloped viruses enter target cells by membrane fusion or endocytosis. In the latter case, fusion of the viral envelope is induced by the acidic pH of the endocytic vesicle [1]. As with most other retroviruses, entry of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is thought to be exclusively by pH-independent membrane fusion after interaction of its envelope with CD4 and a chemokine co-receptor on the target cell [2,3]. Expression of CD4 on the virus-producing cell impairs the release and infectivity of HIV-1(NL4-3) particles [4-6]. In sharp contrast, we found that the infectivity of another HIV isolate, HIV-1SF2, was enhanced by expression of CD4 on the producer cells, which correlated with significantly increased amounts of viral proteins in the vesicular fraction of target cells. Endocytic inhibitors decreased infectivity of HIV-1SF2 but enhanced that of HIV-1 NL4-3. Expression of CD4 in the producer cell did not remove gp41 from HIV-1SF2 virions. With these cells, the formation of syncytia could be induced by acidic medium. Thus, HIV-1SF2 can enter the cytoplasm by an endocytic route after activation of gp41 by the acidic pH of endocytic vesicles. Endocytic entry might expand the range of cells that HIV could infect and should be considered in antiviral strategies against AIDS.

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