Various roles for the viral receptor, CD4, have been proposed in facilitating human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) entry, including virion binding to the target cell and the induction of conformational changes in the viral envelope glycoproteins required for the membrane fusion reaction. Here, we compare the structural requirements in the CDR2-like loop of CD4 domain 1, the major contact site of the gp120 envelope glycoprotein, for gp120 binding and virus entry. For every CD4 mutant examined, the level of cell surface expression and the gp120 binding affinity were sufficient to explain the relative ability to function as a viral receptor. The decrease in relative infectibility associated with decreased gp120 binding affinity was more pronounced at lower cell surface CD4 concentrations. These results imply that both receptor density and affinity determine the efficiency of HIV-1 entry and that specific structures in the CD4 residues examined are probably not required for HIV-1 entry functions other than gp120 binding
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