HIV-1 Envelope Determinants for Cell Tropism and Chemokine Receptor Use

Mol Membr Biol. Jan-Mar 1999;16(1):57-65. doi: 10.1080/096876899294760.


Isolates of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) display marked differences in their ability to replicate in macrophages and transformed T-cell lines in vitro, a property that has important implications for disease pathogenesis. The restriction in replication between these two CD4-positive cell types is largely at the level of viral entry and is regulated by the viral envelope (env) gene. The envelope protein (Env) is responsible for fusion of the viral and host membranes, and a particular region of Env called the V3-loop has been implicated in regulating viral tropism. However, other regions of Env, such as the V1- and V2-loops, have been shown to modulate the effects of the V3-loop. The discovery that Env initially binds the CD4 molecule on the target cell surface and then makes subsequent interactions with one of several members of the chemokine receptor family has greatly enhanced the molecular understanding of HIV-1 entry. The differential use of chemokine receptors by different viral isolates and their expression in different cell types largely explains viral tropism. The same regions in Env responsible for virus tropism have also been shown to play an important role in mediating chemokine receptor use. The recent crystallization of HIV-1 Env in complex with CD4 illuminates the architecture of the components involved in mediating fusion between the viral and host membranes. The spatial relationship between variable structures of Env previously implicated in tropism and chemokine receptor use and conserved Env structures potentially involved in chemokine receptor binding are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • HIV / pathogenicity*
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / chemistry
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / virology
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Receptors, Chemokine / physiology*
  • Tropism*


  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120
  • Receptors, Chemokine