N- and C-domains of HIV-1 gp41: Mutation, structure and functions

Xiao Nan Dong, Yi Xiao, Manfred P. Dierich, Ying Hua Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Recent studies demonstrated that the N- and C-domains of HIV-1 gp41 is involved in virus-mediated membrane fusion resulting in HIV-entry into the target cells. Up to now, viral mutation baffled many scientists to develop effective vaccines and drugs against HIV-1. To acquire more information of mutation of gp41 and to reveal the relationship of structure and function of the N- and C-domains, we compared and analyzed amino acid sequences of the gp41 ectodomain (aa 512-681) of 862 isolates from most HIV-1 clades (including A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J and O clades). A consensus sequence of the ectodomain with the highest frequency emerging on each position is constituted. The fusion domain and the N-domain belong to the most conserved regions in gp41, and most variable residues assemble partial to the C terminal of gp41. The hydrophobicity of each position is also calculated. The a and d positions in the N-domain for maintaining stabilization of the trimeric coiled coil interactions are highly conservative, and the e and g positions in the C-domain to retain the interaction show also highly conservative. The strange high conservation of the c residues may have an implication in the coiled coil structure. The highly conserved residues form the lining of the hydrophobic cavity and the deep cavity is an ideal target for small molecular inhibitors. On the C-terminal of the C-domain there is a highly conserved segment GIVQQQ. They are intimately involved in forming the three interfaces between neighboring helices. The function of the N- and C-domains, such as binding to the potential cellular receptor and inducing protective activities, are also discussed. These studies on the mutation, structure and functions of the N- and C-domains suggested that both domains become a new focus to develop effective vaccine and antiviral drugs in the new strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-220
Number of pages6
JournalImmunology Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 15 2001


  • Function
  • HIV-1 gp41
  • N- and C-domains
  • Structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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