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Nature. 1991 Jan 10;349(6305):167-9.

Macrophage and T cell-line tropisms of HIV-1 are determined by specific regions of the envelope gp120 gene.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0128.


Strains of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) display a high degree of biological heterogeneity which may be linked to certain clinical manifestation of AIDS. They vary in their ability to infect different cell types, to replicate rapidly and to high titre in culture, to down-modulate the CD4 receptor, and to cause cytopathic changes in infected cells. Some of these in vitro properties correlate with pathogenicity of the virus in vivo. To map the viral determinants of the cellular host range of HIV-1, recombinant viruses were generated between biologically active molecular clones of HIV-1 isolates showing differences in infection of primary peripheral blood macrophages and established T-cell lines. We report here that a specific region of the envelope gp120 gene representing 159 amino-acid residues of glycoprotein gp120 seems to determine macrophage tropism, whereas an overlapping region representing 321 amino-acid residues determines T cell-line tropism. These studies provide a basis for relating functional domains of the HIV-1 env gene to pathogenic potential.

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