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Human immunodeficiency virus-infected monocyte-derived macrophages express surface gp120 and fuse with CD4 lymphoid cells in vitro: a possible mechanism of T lymphocyte depletion in vivo.

Crowe SM, Mills J, Elbeik T, Lifson JD, Kosek J, Marshall JA, Engleman EG, McGrath MS

  • Journal Clinical immunology and immunopathology

  • Published 17 Nov 1992

  • Volume 65

  • ISSUE 2

  • Pagination 143-51

  • DOI 10.1016/0090-1229(92)90217-c


Monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) infected in vitro with a macrophage-tropic strain of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) fused with uninfected, CD4-expressing T lymphoblastoid cells, but not with a subclone of these cells lacking surface CD4. Infected MDM also fused with uninfected autologous and heterologous MDM. Recombinant soluble CD4 protein (rsCD4) (10 micrograms/ml) and full-length recombinant glycosylated gp120 (20 micrograms/ml) each inhibited fusion by 94-99%; the inhibition was dose-dependent. The N-terminal portion of gp120 did not inhibit syncytium formation. Fusion was also inhibited by a monoclonal antibody to an epitope which binds gp120 (S3.5), but not by antibody to an epitope not involved in gp120 binding (OKT4). HIV-infected MDM specifically bound fluorescein-conjugated rsCD4, and virus could be visualized budding from the surface of these cells. HIV-infected MDM express viral gp120 on their surface and fuse with CD4-bearing cells in a fashion similar to lymphoid cells. Macrophages may contribute to CD4 lymphocyte depletion in vivo by this fusion mechanism.