Demonstration of two distinct cytopathic effects with syncytium formation-defective human immunodeficiency virus type 1 mutants

D. Dedera, L. Ratner

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27 Scopus citations


The mechanism of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) cytopathicity is poorly understood and might involve formation of multinucleated giant cells (syncytia), single-cell lysis, or both. In order to determine the contributions of the fusion domain to syncytium formation, single-cell lysis, and viral infectivity and to clarify the molecular details of these events, insertion mutations were made in the portion of env encoding this sequence in the functional HIV-1 proviral clone HXB2. Viruses produced from these mutant clones were found to have a partial (F3) or complete (F6) loss of syncytium-forming ability in acutely infected CEM, Sup T1, and MT4 T-cell lines. During the early stage of acute infection by F6 virus, there was a loss of the syncytial cytopathic effect, which resulted in increased cell viability, and a 1.9- to 2.6-fold increase in virus yield in the cell lines tested. In the late stage of acute infection, the single-cell cytopathic effect of F6 virus was similar to that of the parental HXB2 virus. The F3 and F6 viruses were also found to have a 1.7- to 43-fold reduction in infectivity compared with the HXB2 virus. The mutant F3 and F6 and parental HXB2 envelope proteins were expressed in vaccinia virus, and the mutant envelope proteins were observed to be defective in their ability to form syncytia. BSC-40 cells infected with vaccinia virus recombinants revealed no differences in kinetics of cleavage, cell surface expression, or CD4 binding capacity of the mutant and parental envelope proteins. These results demonstrate that a loss of syncytium formation results in an attenuation of infectivity and a loss of the syncytial cytopathic effect without a loss of single-cell lysis. These mutants may reflect in tissue culture the changes observed in the HIV isolates in vivo during disease progression, which exhibit marked differences in syncytium production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6129-6136
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1991


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