Conserved structural features in the interaction between retroviral surface and transmembrane glycoproteins?

T. F. Schulz, B. A. Jameson, L. Lopalco, A. G. Siccardi, R. A. Weiss, J. P. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Among the retroviruses, the surface (SU) and transmembrane (TM) glycoproteins of lentiviruses are linked exclusively by noncovalent bonds. For some C-type retroviruses, however, a small proportion of the SU proteins has been shown to be linked to their TM proteins by a disulfide bond, with the remainder being noncovalently associated. A region near the carboxyl terminus of the HIV-1 SU glycoprotein has been implicated in contacting the TM glycoprotein. Computer modelling indicates that this region of divergent lentivirus and oncovirus SU glycoproteins forms a structurally conserved 'pocket' which could accommodate a 'knob'-like protrusion formed by an immunodominant region in the TM protein containing the CxxxxxC (lentiviruses) or CxxxxxxCC (C- and D-type viruses) motif. An anti-idiotypic monoclonal antibody, raised against a monoclonal antibody reacting with a sequence in the 'pocket' of HIV-1 gp120, was found to bind to synthetic peptides close to the CxxxxxC motif. It is suggested that part of the SU-TM linkage mechanism for the lentiviruses and oncoviruses is a 'knob and socket' structure and that the interaction between SU and TM proteins is similar in one region for lentiviruses and C-type as well as D-type viruses. The conserved knob and socket linkage may be relevant to a mechanism for viral-cell membrane fusion that is broadly common to all of these retroviruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1571-1580
Number of pages10
JournalAIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology


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