Quantitative model of antibody- and soluble CD4-mediated neutralization of primary isolates and T-cell line-adapted strains of human immunodeficiency virus type
Primary isolates (PI) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) are considerably less sensitive than T-cell line-adapted strains to neutralization by soluble CD4 and by most cross-reactive monoclonal antibodies to the viral envelope (Env) glycoprotein, as well as by postinfection and postvaccination sera (J. P. Moore and D. D. Ho, AIDS 9 [suppl. A]:5117-5136, 1995). We developed a quantitative model to explain the neutralization resistance of PI. The factors incorporated into the model are the dissociation constants for the binding of the neutralizing agent to native Env oligomers, the number of outer Env molecules on the viral surface (which decreases by shedding), and the minimum number of Env molecules required for attachment and fusion. We conclude that modest differences in all these factors can, when combined, explain a relative neutralization resistance of PI versus T-cell line-adapted strains that sometimes amounts to several orders of magnitude. The hypothesis that neutralization of HIV is due to the reduction below a minimum number of the Env molecules on a virion available for attachment and fusion is at odds with single- and few-hit neutralization theories. Our analysis of these ideas favors the hypothesis that neutralization of HIV is instead a competitive blocking of interactions with cellular factors, including adsorption receptors.