An Allosteric Rheostat in HIV-1 gp120 Reduces CCR5 Stoichiometry Required for Membrane Fusion and Overcomes Diverse Entry Limitations

Emily J. Platt, James P. Durnin, Ujwal Shinde, David Kabat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Binding of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein gp120 to the CCR5 co-receptor reduces constraints on the metastable transmembrane subunit gp41, thereby enabling gp41 refolding, fusion of viral and cellular membranes, and infection. We previously isolated adapted HIV-1JRCSF variants that more efficiently use mutant CCR5s, including CCR5(Δ18) lacking the important tyrosine sulfate-containing amino terminus. Effects of mutant CCR5 concentrations on HIV-1 infectivities were highly cooperative, implying that several may be required. However, because wild-type CCR5 efficiently mediates infections at trace concentrations that were difficult to measure accurately, analyses of its cooperativity were not feasible. New HIV-1JRCSF variants efficiently use CCR5(HHMH), a chimera containing murine extracellular loop 2. The adapted virus induces large syncytia in cells containing either wild-type or mutant CCR5s and has multiple gp120 mutations that occurred independently in CCR5(Δ18)-adapted virus. Accordingly, these variants interchangeably use CCR5(HHMH) or CCR5(Δ18). Additional analyses strongly support a novel energetic model for allosteric proteins, implying that the adaptive mutations reduce quaternary constraints holding gp41, thus lowering the activation energy barrier for membrane fusion without affecting bonds to specific CCR5 sites. In accordance with this mechanism, highly adapted HIV-1s require only one associated CCR5(HHMH), whereas poorly adapted viruses require several. However, because they are allosteric ensembles, complexes with additional co-receptors fuse more rapidly and efficiently than minimal ones. Similarly, wild-type HIV-1JRCSF is highly adapted to wild-type CCR5 and minimally requires one. The adaptive mutations cause resistances to diverse entry inhibitors and cluster appropriately in the gp120 trimer interface overlying gp41. We conclude that membrane fusion complexes are allosteric machines with an ensemble of compositions, and that HIV-1 adapts to entry limitations by gp120 mutations that reduce its allosteric hold on gp41. These results provide an important foundation for understanding the mechanisms that control membrane fusion and HIV-1's facile adaptability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-79
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 16 2007


  • CCR5
  • allostery
  • human immunodeficiency virus
  • membrane fusion
  • viral adaptation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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