Epitopes of the CD4 antigen and HIV infection

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Science  28 Nov 1986:
Vol. 234, Issue 4780, pp. 1120-1123
DOI: 10.1126/science.2430333


The CD4 (or T4) surface antigen of human T lymphocytes is an important part of the receptor for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). After binding to the receptor, the HIV may enter the T cell and induce the formation of syncytia. In an attempt to identify the receptor site more closely, monoclonal antibodies (Mab's) to CD4 were tested for their ability to block HIV infection in a syncytium formation assay, and the CD4 epitopes so identified were mapped by antibody cross-blocking. The antibodies that showed strong inhibition of HIV fell into two main families while a third group of Mab's blocked syncytia formation weakly or not at all. Several different isolates of HIV as well as the laboratory strain CBL1 grown in CEM cells were used to induce the syncytia. The data indicate that only some epitopes of CD4 are important for virus binding and imply that the virus-binding site for CD4 is conserved in different isolates of HIV with substantially divergent env gene sequences. Preliminary studies of patients suggest that polymorphism of these epitopes does not play a role in determining susceptibility to infection.