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J Gen Virol. 2005 Jan;86(Pt 1):131-8.

Part of the C-terminal tail of the envelope gp41 transmembrane glycoprotein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 is exposed on the surface of infected cells and is involved in virus-mediated cell fusion.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK.


The C-terminal tail of the gp41 transmembrane glycoprotein of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) virion is usually thought to be inside the virion, but it has been shown recently that part of the tail is exposed on the virion exterior. Here, using a panel of antibodies, it was demonstrated that the same part of the tail is exposed on the surface of HIV-1-infected C8166 lymphoblastoid cells and HeLa cells infected with a gp41-expressing vaccinia virus recombinant. Both types of infected cell failed to react with p17 matrix protein-specific IgGs until permeabilized with saponin, confirming the integrity of the plasma membrane. Cell-surface exposure of the gp41 tail was independently demonstrated by inhibition of HIV-1-mediated cell-cell fusion by one of the gp41 tail-specific antibodies. These data also implicate the exposed region of the gp41 C-terminal tail either directly or indirectly in the viral fusion process. Its surface exposure suggests that the gp41 C-terminal tail may be a candidate for immune intervention or chemotherapy of infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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