The rates of internalization and uncoating of 32P-labelled human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the human T lymphoid cell line CEM are consonant with a receptor-mediated endocytosis mechanism of entry. This interpretation was affirmed by electron microscopic observation of virions within endosomes. Virus binding and infectivity were inhibited to the same extent by pretreatment with OKT4A antibody, therefore, the CD4 receptor-dependent pathway of internalization appears to be the infectious route of entry. The pattern of internalization by the human monoblastoid cell line U937 proved to be more complex, involving rapid and efficient CD4-independent internalization. Electron microscopy revealed the presence of large intracellular vesicles, each containing several virions. Antibody against the CD4 receptor for virus efficiently blocked infection, but did not reduce significantly HIV binding or internalization in the U937 cell line. Consequently, U937 cells have a CD4-independent pathway of virus internalization that does not coincide with the route of entry for infectious HIV.

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