Envelope glycoprotein GP120 (or gp120) is a glycoprotein exposed on the surface of the HIV envelope. GP120 is essential for virus entry into cells as it plays a vital role in attachment to specific cell surface receptors. This molecule has specific interaction with the CD4 receptor of helper T cells. Binding to CD4 induces the start of a cascade of conformational changes in gp120 and gp41 that lead to the fusion of the viral with the host cell membrane. Since CD4 receptor binding is the most obvious step in HIV infection, gp120 was among the first targets of HIV vaccine research.
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