Identification of CD4-independent HIV Receptors on Spermatozoa


Address reprint requests to A.H. Bandivdekar, National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health, J. M. street, Parel, Mumbai 400 012, India.


Problem: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been demonstrated to bind and enter into the spermatozoa facilitating the transmission into urogenital cells. However, spermatozoa has been reported to be devoid of the conventional CD4 receptors for HIV. This suggests that there exists an alternate modality of HIV entry into spermatozoa using receptors other than CD4. Present communication describes the identification of HIV receptors on the spermatozoa.

Method of Study: The sperm proteins were solubilized using Triton X-100 and subjected to sodium dodecyl sulfate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis followed by Western blot analysis, using cell-free HIV or gp120 envelope glycoprotein as a probe. HIV or gp120 bound protein band was then visualized by using alkaline phosphatase (AP) labeled anti-gp120 antibody as well as by using anti-gp120 antibody and subsequently by AP-labeled anti-rabbit gamma globulin.

Results: The results obtained demonstrate for the first time that cell-free HIV and gp120 protein bind specifically to 160 kDa sperm protein that could be the receptor for HIV entry into spermatozoa.

Conclusion: A 160 kDa sperm protein could be the CD4-independent HIV receptor for HIV to bind and enter into the spermatozoa. Further characterization of this 160 kDa HIV receptor on sperm will provide an insight in understanding the mechanism and probable mode of intervention or prevention of HIV transmission at the initial stage of infection.