The surface envelope glycoprotein (SU) of Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), gp120 SU plays an essential role in virus binding to target CD4+ T-cells and is a major vaccine target. Gp120 has remarkably high levels of N-linked glycosylation and there is considerable evidence that this "glycan shield" can help protect the virus from antibody-mediated neutralization. In recent years, however, it has become clear that gp120 glycosylation can also be included in the targets of recognition by some of the most potent broadly neutralizing antibodies. Knowing the site-specific glycosylation of gp120 can facilitate the rational design of glycopeptide antigens for HIV vaccine development. While most prior studies have focused on glycan analysis of recombinant forms of gp120, here we report the first systematic glycosylation site analysis of gp120 derived from virions produced by infected T lymphoid cells and show that a single site is exclusively substituted with complex glycans. These results should help guide the design of vaccine immunogens.
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