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J Virol. 1992 Dec;66(12):6953-9.

Sulfation of the human immunodeficiency virus envelope glycoprotein.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Alabama, Birmingham 35294.


Sulfation is a posttranslational modification of proteins which occurs on either the tyrosine residues or the carbohydrate moieties of some glycoproteins. In the case of secretory proteins, sulfation has been hypothesized to act as a signal for export from the cell. We have shown that the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein precursor (gp160) as well as the surface (gp120) and transmembrane (gp41) subunits can be specifically labelled with 35SO42-. Sulfated HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins were identified in H9 cells infected with the IIIB isolate of HIV-1 and in the cell lysates and culture media of cells infected with vaccinia virus recombinants expressing a full-length or truncated, secreted form of the HIV-1 gp160 gene. N-glycosidase F digestion of 35SO4(2-)-labelled envelope proteins removed virtually all radiolabel from gp160, gp120, and gp41, indicating that sulfate was linked to the carbohydrate chains of the glycoprotein. The 35SO42-label was at least partially resistant to endoglycosidase H digestion, indicating that some sulfate was linked to complex carbohydrates. Brefeldin A, a compound that inhibits the endoplasmic reticulum to Golgi transport of glycoproteins, was found to inhibit the sulfation of the envelope glycoproteins. Envelope glycoproteins synthesized in cells treated with chlorate failed to incorporate 35SO42-. However, HIV glycoproteins were still secreted from cells in the presence of chlorate, indicating that sulfation is not a requirement for secretion of envelope glycoproteins. Sulfation of HIV-2 and simian immunodeficiency virus envelope glycoproteins has also been demonstrated by using vaccinia virus-based expression systems. Sulfation is a major determinant of negative charge and could play a role in biological functions and antigenic properties of HIV glycoproteins.

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