n Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine - HIV life cycle and potential targets for drug activity : Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1608-9693
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6751



The major receptor that facilitates binding of HIV to human cells is the CD4 differentiation molecule. Table 1 shows the main cell types that bear CD4 or CD4-like molecules and are infected by HIV . Following HIV infection there is progressive depletion and/or dysfunction of CD4+ T lymphocytes that results in immunodeficiency. A viral surface glycoprotein known as gp120 binds to the CD4 molecule. On binding, a conformational change occurs in the gp120-CD4 complex that allows gp120 to interact with one or more cellular co-receptors. The gp120-co-receptor interaction triggers a further conformational change in gp41, another of the viral surface structures; hydrophobic portions of this molecule merge with the target cell membrane, inducing fusion between virus and cell.

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