Dominant-negative effect of hetero-oligomerization on the function of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 envelope glycoprotein complex
HIV Envelope Protein gp120
HIV Envelope Protein gp41
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope (Env) glycoprotein forms trimers that mediate interactions with the CD4 receptor and a co-receptor on the target cell surface, thereby triggering viral fusion with the cell membrane. Cleavage of Env into its surface, gp120, and transmembrane, gp41, moieties is necessary for activation of its fusogenicity. Here, we produced pseudoviruses with phenotypically mixed wild-type (Wt) and mutant, cleavage-incompetent Env in order to quantify the effects of incorporating uncleaved Env on virion infectivity, antigenicity and neutralization sensitivity. We modeled the relative infectivity of three such phenotypically mixed viral strains, JR-FL, HXBc2 and a derivative of the latter, 3.2P, as a function of the relative amount of Wt Env. The data were fit very closely (R(2) > 0.99) by models which assumed that only Wt homotrimers were functional, with different approximate thresholds of critical numbers of functional trimers per virion for the three strains. We also produced 3.2P pseudoviruses containing both a cleavage-competent Env that is defective for binding the neutralizing monoclonal antibody (NAb) 2G12, and a cleavage-incompetent Env that binds 2G12. The 2G12 NAb was not able to reduce the infectivity of these pseudoviruses detectably. Their neutralization by the CD4-binding site-directed agents CD4-IgG2 and NAb b12 was also unaffected by 2G12 binding to uncleaved Env. These results further strengthen the conclusion that only homotrimers consisting of cleaved Env are functional. They also imply that the function of a trimer is unaffected sterically by the binding of an antibody to an adjacent trimer.