Stephen Harrison, PhD
Animation: HIV Protein Changing Shape
This illustration shows gp120, a protein on HIV's surface that binds to a cell's CD4 receptor, before and after it binds to the cell. Once bound, the protein rearranges itself, signaling a companion HIV protein, gp41, to launch a series of maneuvers that allow HIV to fuse its outer membrane with that of the target cell. This fusion lets HIV enter the cell and begin replicating. This change not only helps HIV hide from the immune system but is key to enabling the virus to infect cells.
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