The entry of human immunodeficiency virus into host cells is mediated by the envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimeric spike, which consists of three exterior gp120 subunits and three transmembrane gp41 subunits. The trimeric Env undergoes extensive conformational rearrangement upon interaction with the CD4 receptor, transitioning from the unliganded, “closed” State 1 to more-open downstream State 2 and State 3 conformations. Changes in “restraining” amino acid residues, such as leucine 193 and isoleucine 423, destabilize State 1 Env, which then assumes entry-competent, downstream conformations. The introduction of an artificial disulfide bond linking the gp120 and gp41 subunits (SOS) in combination with the I559P (IP) change has allowed structural characterization of soluble gp140 (sgp140) trimers. The conformation of these SOSIP-stabilized sgp140 trimers has been suggested to represent the closed native State 1 conformation. Here we compare the impact on the membrane Env conformation of the SOSIP changes with that of the well-characterized changes (L193R and I423A) that shift Env to downstream States 2 and 3. The results presented here suggest that the SOSIP changes stabilize Env in a conformation that differs from State 1 but also from the downstream Env conformations stabilized by L193R or I423A. IMPORTANCE The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimer is triggered by receptor binding to mediate the entry of the virus into cells. Most structural studies of Env trimers have utilized truncated soluble gp140 Envs stabilized with the I559P and SOS changes. Here we present evidence indicating that these stabilizing changes have a profound impact on the conformation of Env, moving Env away from the native pretriggered Env conformation. Our studies underscore the need to acquire structural information on the pretriggered Env conformation, which is recognized by most broadly reactive neutralizing antibodies.
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- Env conformation
- State 1
- States 2/3