To map the regions of the external envelope glycoproteins of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) involved in the process of membrane fusion, we determined the syncytium-inducing capacity of a panel of transiently expressed chimeric envelope genes. This panel was generated by exchanging gene fragments between four previously studied envelope genes that exhibited a high degree of sequence homology yet displayed marked differences in syncytium-inducing capacity when expressed by recombinant vaccinia virus. The results demonstrate that multiple regions of the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins are involved in syncytium formation. Some fragments, most notably those containing the V2 or V3 region, can transfer syncytium-inducing capacity to envelope proteins previously not capable of inducing syncytia. Moreover, it is shown that such regions functionally interact with other envelope regions, especially one encompassing the V4 and V5 regions of gp120 or a region encompassing part of gp41, to exert their function in membrane fusion.

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Journal of Virology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Andeweg, A., Leeflang, P., Osterhaus, A., & Bosch, M. (1993). Both the V2 and V3 regions of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 surface glycoprotein functionally interact with other envelope regions in syncytium formation. Journal of Virology, 67, 3232–3239. Retrieved from