Identification and characterization of conserved and variable regions in the envelope gene of HTLV-III/LAV, the retrovirus of AIDS

Cell. 1986 Jun 6;45(5):637-48. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(86)90778-6.


To determine the extent and nature of genetic variation present in independent isolates of HTLV-III/LAV, the nucleotide sequences of the entire envelope gene and parts of gag and pol were determined for two AIDS viruses. The results indicated that variation throughout the viral genome is extensive and that the envelope gene in particular is most highly variable. Within the envelope, changes were most prevalent within the extracellular region where clustered nucleotide substitutions and deletions/insertions were evident. Based on predicted secondary protein structure and hydrophilicity, these hypervariable regions represent potential antigenic sites. In contrast to the hypervariable regions, other sequences in the extracellular envelope and the overall envelope structure (including 18 of 18 cysteine residues), as well as most of the transmembrane region, were highly conserved.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / microbiology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Deltaretrovirus / genetics*
  • Deltaretrovirus / isolation & purification
  • Gene Products, gag
  • Genes, Viral*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics
  • Retroviridae Proteins / genetics
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / genetics*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • Gene Products, gag
  • Retroviridae Proteins
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/K03455
  • GENBANK/M12507
  • GENBANK/M12508
  • GENBANK/M17451