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J Biol Chem. 2001 Apr 20;276(16):13433-41. Epub 2001 Jan 16.

N-linked glycosylation of the HIV type-1 gp120 envelope glycoprotein as a major determinant of CCR5 and CXCR4 coreceptor utilization.

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Department of Human Retrovirology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 15, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The variable V1V2 and V3 regions of the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein (gp120) can influence viral coreceptor usage. To substantiate this we generated isogenic HIV-1 molecularly cloned viruses that were composed of the HxB2 envelope backbone containing the V1V2 and V3 regions from viruses isolated from a patient progressing to disease. We show that the V3 amino acid charge per se had little influence on altering the virus coreceptor phenotype. The V1V2 region and its N-linked glycosylation degree were shown to confer CXCR4 usage and provide the virus with rapid replication kinetics. Loss of an N-linked glycosylation site within the V3 region had a major influence on the virus switching from the R5 to X4 phenotype in a V3 charge-dependent manner. The loss of this V3 N-linked glycosylation site was also linked with the broadening of the coreceptor repertoire to incorporate CCR3. By comparing the amino acid sequences of primary HIV-1 isolates, we identified a strong association between high V3 charge and the loss of this V3 N-linked glycosylation site. These results demonstrate that the N-linked glycosylation pattern of the HIV-1 envelope can strongly influence viral coreceptor utilization and the R5 to X4 switch.

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