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J Virol. 2002 Oct;76(19):9888-99.

Mutagenic stabilization and/or disruption of a CD4-bound state reveals distinct conformations of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 gp120 envelope glycoprotein.

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Department of Cancer Immunology and AIDS, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gp120 exterior envelope glycoprotein is conformationally flexible. Upon binding to the host cell receptor CD4, gp120 assumes a conformation that is recognized by the second receptor, CCR5 and/or CXCR4, and by the CD4-induced (CD4i) antibodies. Guided by the X-ray crystal structure of a gp120-CD4-CD4i antibody complex, we introduced changes into gp120 that were designed to stabilize or disrupt this conformation. One mutant, 375 S/W, in which the tryptophan indole group is predicted to occupy the Phe 43 cavity in the gp120 interior, apparently favors a gp120 conformation closer to that of the CD4-bound state. The 375 S/W mutant was recognized as well as or better than wild-type gp120 by CD4 and CD4i antibodies, and the large decrease in entropy observed when wild-type gp120 bound CD4 was reduced for the 375 S/W mutant. The recognition of the 375 S/W mutant by CD4BS antibodies, which are directed against the CD4-binding region of gp120, was markedly reduced compared with that of the wild-type gp120. Compared with the wild-type virus, viruses with the 375 S/W envelope glycoproteins were resistant to neutralization by IgG1b12, a CD4BS antibody, were slightly more sensitive to soluble CD4 neutralization and were neutralized more efficiently by the 2G12 antibody. Another mutant, 423 I/P, in which the gp120 bridging sheet was disrupted, did not bind CD4, CCR5, or CD4i antibodies, even though recognition by CD4BS antibodies was efficient. These results indicate that CD4BS antibodies recognize conformations of gp120 different from that recognized by CD4 and CD4i antibodies.

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