CD4 (T4) is a glycoprotein of relative molecular mass 55,000 (Mr 55K) on the surface of T lymphocytes which is thought to interact with class II MHC (major histocompatibility complex) molecules, mediating efficient association of helper T cells with antigenbearing targets1–3. The CD4 protein is also the receptor for HIV, a T-lymphotropic RNA virus responsible for the human acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) (refs 4–7). To define the mechanisms of interaction of CD4 with the surface of antigen-presenting cells and with HIV, we have isolated the CD4 gene and expressed this gene in several different cellular environments7,8. Here we describe an efficient expression system in which a recombinant, soluble form of CD4 (sCD4) is secreted into tissue culture supernatants. This scD4 retains the structural and biological properties of CD4 on the cell surface, binds to the envelope glycoprotein (gpllO) of HIV and inhibits the binding of virus to CD4+ lymphocytes, resulting in a striking inhibition of virus infectivity.
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