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Cell. 2000 Nov 10;103(4):679-89.

Retroviral entry mediated by receptor priming and low pH triggering of an envelope glycoprotein.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Avian leukosis virus (ALV) has been used as a model system to understand the mechanism of pH-independent viral entry involving receptor-induced conformational changes in the viral envelope (Env) glycoprotein that lead to membrane fusion. Here, we report the unexpected finding that ALV entry depends on a critical low pH step that was overlooked when this virus was directly compared to the classical pH-dependent influenza A virus. In contrast to influenza A virus, receptor interaction plays an essential role in priming ALV Env for subsequent low pH triggering. Our results reveal a novel principle in viral entry, namely that receptor interaction can convert a pH-insensitive viral glycoprotein to a form that is responsive to low pH.

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