EnvelopeJAMA In virology, a protein covering that packages the virus's genetic information. The outer coat, or
envelope, of HIV is composed of two layers of fatlike molecules, called lipids, taken from the membranes
of human cells. Embedded in the envelope are numerous cellular proteins, as well as mushroom-shaped
HIV proteins that protrude from the surface. Each mushroom is thought to consist of a cap made of four
glycoprotein molecules called gp120 and a stem consisting of four gp41 molecules embedded in the
envelope. The virus uses these proteins to attach to and infect cells. See also Glycoprotein; GP41; GP120;
the outer covering of a virus. The HIV envelope contains
spikes and is composed of 2 protein subunits -- gp120 and gp41 -- encoded
by the env gene. The glycoprotein gp120 attaches itself to the CD4 surface
protein, allowing HIV to infect certain cells.
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