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The T4 glycoprotein is a cell-surface receptor for the AIDS virus.


Taken together, our studies suggest a mechanism of AIDS virus infection that initially involves the specific association of the AIDS virus with T4 molecules on the cell surface. This association does not require additional T-cell-specific molecules and can be demonstrated on both B lymphocytes and epithelial cell lines. The T4-AIDS virus complex is likely to be internalized in endosomes via receptor-mediated endocytosis. The virus can then fuse with the vacuolar membrane, releasing the viral nucleocapsid into the cytoplasm to undergo uncoating. Viral replication does not appear to require the environment of a T lymphocyte because active infection is also observed in human T4+ B lymphocytes and epithelial cell lines. Moreover, the T4 gene is expressed in the brain as well as in lymphocytes, providing an explanation for the dual neurotropic and lymphotropic character of the virus. In this manner, a T-lymphocyte surface protein thought to be important in mediating effector cell-target cell interactions has been exploited by a human lymphotropic virus to target the AIDS virus specifically to populations of T4+ cells.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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