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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 Jan;1758(1):111-23. Epub 2006 Jan 31.

The membranotropic regions of the endo and ecto domains of HIV gp41 envelope glycoprotein.

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Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular, Universidad Miguel Hernández, E-03202 Elche-Alicante, Spain.


We have identified the membranotropic regions of the full sequence of the HIV gp41 envelope glycoprotein by performing an exhaustive study of membrane rupture, phospholipid-mixing and fusion induced by two 15-mer gp41-derived peptide libraries from HIV strains HIV_MN and HIV_consensus_B on model membranes having different phospholipid compositions. The data obtained for the two strains and its comparison have led us to identify different gp41 membranotropic segments in both ecto- and endodomains which might be implicated in viral membrane fusion and/or membrane interaction. The membranotropic segments corresponding to the gp41 ectodomain were the fusion domain, a stretch located on the N-heptad repeat region adjacent to the fusion domain, part of the immunodominant loop, the pre-transmembrane domain and the transmembrane domain. The membranotropic segments corresponding to the gp41 endodomain were mainly located at some specific parts of the previously described lentivirus lytic sequences. Significantly, the C-heptad repeat region and the Kennedy sequence located in the ectodomain and in the endodomain, respectively, presented no membranotropic activity in any model membrane assayed. The identification of these gp41 segments as well as their membranotropic propensity sustain the notion that different segments of gp41 provide the driving force for the merging of the viral and target cell membranes as well as they help us to define those segments as attractive targets for further development of new anti-viral compounds.

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