The block to HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein-mediated membrane fusion in animal cells expressing human CD4 can be overcome by a human cell component(s)

Virology. 1993 Mar;193(1):483-91. doi: 10.1006/viro.1993.1151.


Membrane fusion mediated by interaction of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein with the human CD4 molecule generally requires that the CD4 be expressed on a human cell. The failure of murine or simian cells expressing human CD4 to form syncytia upon mixing with cells expressing envelope glycoprotein could not be corrected by expression of both molecules at extremely high surface levels using vaccinia virus expression vectors. Video fluorescence microscopic analysis of fluorescent dye transfer between fusing cells indicated that the block occurred at the level of membrane fusion between individual pairs of cells. To gain insight into the basis for this fusion block, we tested the ability of fluorescent probe cells expressing envelope glycoprotein to fuse with transient animal x human hybrid giant cells expressing human CD4. The hybrid giant cells were generated either by low-pH-induced fusion of vaccinia-infected cells or by CD4/HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein-mediated cell fusion. We observed that envelope glycoprotein-expressing probe cells efficiently fused with CD4-expressing animal x human hybrid giant cells, independent of whether the CD4 was originally expressed on the animal or on the human cell. Fusion did not occur with CD4-expressing giant cells derived from animal cells alone. These results indicate that the fusion block is not due to dominant inhibitory components in the animal cell. Rather, they suggest that human cells contain an additional component(s) which, when transferred to the CD4-bearing animal cell, confers the ability to undergo membrane fusion mediated by the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4 Antigens / metabolism*
  • Giant Cells / metabolism
  • Giant Cells / microbiology
  • HIV-1 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Vaccinia virus
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / metabolism*
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / metabolism*


  • CD4 Antigens
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • Viral Fusion Proteins