Comparative analysis of the glycosylation profiles of membrane-anchored HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein trimers and soluble gp140

Eden P. Go, Alon Herschhorn, Christopher Gu, Luis Castillo-Menendez, Shijian Zhang, Youdong Mao, Haiyan Chen, Haitao Ding, John K. Wakefield, David Hua, Hua Xin Liao, John C. Kappes, Joseph Sodroski, Heather Desaire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimer, which consists of the gp120 and gp41 subunits, is the focus of multiple strategies for vaccine development. Extensive Env glycosylation provides HIV-1 with protection from the immune system, yet the glycans are also essential components of binding epitopes for numerous broadly neutralizing antibodies. Recent studies have shown that when Env is isolated from virions, its glycosylation profile differs significantly from that of soluble forms of Env (gp120 or gp140) predominantly used in vaccine discovery research. Here we show that exogenous membrane-anchored Envs, which can be produced in large quantities in mammalian cells, also display a virion-like glycan profile, where the glycoprotein is extensively decorated with high-mannose glycans. Additionally, because we characterized the glycosylation with a high-fidelity profiling method, glycopeptide analysis, an unprecedented level of molecular detail regarding membrane Env glycosylation and its heterogeneity is presented. Each glycosylation site was characterized individually, with about 500 glycoforms characterized per Env protein. While many of the sites contain exclusively high-mannose glycans, others retain complex glycans, resulting in a glycan profile that cannot currently be mimicked on soluble gp120 or gp140 preparations. These site-level studies are important for understanding antibody-glycan interactions on native Env trimers. Additionally, we report a newly observed O-linked glycosylation site, T606, and we show that the full O-linked glycosylation profile of membraneassociated Env is similar to that of soluble gp140. These findings provide new insight into Env glycosylation and clarify key molecular- level differences between membrane-anchored Env and soluble gp140.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8245-8257
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2015

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