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Virology. 2004 Jun 20;324(1):90-102.

HIV-1 acute infection env glycomutants designed from 3D model: effects on processing, antigenicity, and neutralization sensitivity.

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FRE 2736 CNRS-bioMérieux, IFR128 Biosciences, CERVI, Lyon, France.


The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope protein (Env) has evolved to limit its overall immunogenicity by extensive glycosylation. Only a few studies dealing with glycosylation sites have taken into account available 3D data in a global approach. We compared primary env sequences from patients with acute HIV-1 infection. Conserved N-glycosylation sites were placed on the gp120-3D model. Based on vicinity, we defined glycosylation clusters. According to these clusters, we engineered plasmids encoding deglycosylated gp160 mutants. We also constructed mutants corresponding to nonclustered glycans or to the full deglycosylation of the V1 or V2 loop. After in vitro expression, mutants were tested for functionality. We also compared the inhibition of pseudotyped particles infection by human-neutralizing sera. Generally, clustered and nonclustered mutants were affected similarly. Silencing of more than one glycan had deleterious effects, independently of the type of sugar removed. However, some mutants were moderately affected by glycans removal suggesting a distinct role for these N-glycans. Additionally, compared to the wild-type pseudovirus, two of these mutants were neutralized at higher sera dilutions strengthening the importance of the location of specific N-glycans in limiting the neutralizing response. These results could guide the selection of env mutants with the fewest antigenic and functional alterations but with enhanced neutralization sensitivity.

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