We have examined the influence of the V1/V2 region of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gp120 on certain biologic properties of the virus. We observed that on the genomic background of the T-cell-line-tropic strain, HIV-1SF2mc, both the V1 and V2 domains of the macrophage-tropic strain, HIV-1SF162mc, in addition to the required V3 domain, are necessary to attain full macrophage tropism. Furthermore, the V2 domain modulates the sensitivity of HIV-1 to soluble CD4 neutralization. Structural studies of recombinant and mutant envelope glycoproteins suggest that the function of the V1/V2 region is to interact with the V3 domain and confer on the envelope gp120 of HIV-1SF2mc a conformation more similar to that of the macrophage-tropic strain HIV-1SF162mc. The conformation of the envelope gp120 appears to be strain specific and plays an important role in determining HIV-1 tissue tropism and sensitivity to soluble CD4 neutralization
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