Between hypervariable regions V1 and V2 of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gp120 lies a cluster of relatively conserved residues. The contribution of nine charged residues in this region to virus infectivity was evaluated by single-amino-acid substitutions in an infectious provirus clone. Three of the HIV-1 mutants studied had slower growth kinetics than the wild-type virus. The delay was most pronounced in a mutant with an alanine substituted for an aspartic acid residue at position 180. This aspartic acid is conserved by all HIV-1 isolates with known nucleotide sequences. Substitutions with three other residues at this position, including a negatively charged glutamic acid, all affected virus infectivity. The defect identified in these mutants suggests that this aspartic acid residue is involved in the early stages of HIV-1 replication
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