Human T-lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III) or lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV) is tropic for human T cells with the helper-inducer phenotype, as defined by reactivity with monoclonal antibodies specific for the T4 molecule. Treatment of T4+ T cells with monoclonal antibodies to T4 antigen blocks HTLV-III/LAV binding, syncytia formation, and infectivity. Thus, it has been inferred that the T4 molecule itself is a virus receptor. In the present studies, the surfaces of T4+ T cells were labeled radioactively, and then the cells were exposed to virus. After the cells were lysed, HTLV-III/LAV antibodies were found to precipitate a surface protein with a molecular weight of 58,000 (58K). By blocking and absorption experiments, this 58K protein was identified as the T4 molecule. No cell-surface structures other than the T4 molecule were involved in the antibody-antigen complex formation. Two monoclonal antibodies, each reactive with a separate epitope of the T4 molecule, were tested for their binding capacities in the presence of HTLV-III/LAV. When HTLV-III/LAV was bound to T4+ T cells, the virus blocked the binding of one of the monoclonal antibodies, T4A (OKT4A), but not of the other, T4 (OKT4). When HTLV-III/LAV was internally radiolabeled and bound to T4+ T cells which were then lysed, a viral glycoprotein of 110K (gp110) coprecipitated with the T4 molecule. The binding of gp110 to the T4 molecule may thus be a major factor in HTLV-III/LAV tropism and may prove useful in developing therapeutic or preventive measures for the acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

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