The immunoglobulin superantigen-binding site of HIV-1 gp120 activates human basophils

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To investigate the mechanism whereby HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120 from four different isolates obtained in three different countries induces proinflammatory mediator release from normal human basophils.


Histamine, cysteinyl leukotriene C4 (LTC4) and interleukin 4 (IL-4) release into the supernatant was measured in gp120-stimulated peripheral blood basophils from HIV-1 and HIV-2 negative subjects.


The HIV glycoprotein was a potent stimulus for release of these mediators in basophils purified from donors negative for HIV-1 and HIV-2. There was also a correlation (r = 0.58;P < 0.01) between the maximum IL-4 release from basophils induced by gp120 and by anti-IgE. Basophils from which IgE had been dissociated by brief exposure to lactic acid no longer released histamine in response to gp120 and anti-IgE. Anti-IgE specifically desensitized basophils to a subsequent challenge with anti-IgE and gp120. Human monoclonal IgM carrying the VH3 domain, but not that carrying the VH6 domain, inhibited gp120-induced secretion of histamine from basophils in a concentration-dependent manner. Synthetic peptides identical to regions distant from the N- and C-termini of gp120MN inhibited its activating capacity.


gp120 acts as a viral superantigen interacting with the VH3 domain of IgE to induce the release of preformed and de novo synthesized mediators from human cells carrying the Fc fragment Fc∊RI receptor.

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