Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) were raised against the transmembrane protein (TM) gp41 of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1, strain HTLV-IIIB). The reactivity of three TM-specific MAbs was investigated in several tests, ELISA, immunostaining of Western blots, immunofluorescence and an alkaline phosphatase-anti-alkaline phosphatase assay. Epitope mapping was done by using overlapping gp41 peptides produced as fusion proteins and synthetic peptides. In an assay, all three MAbs showed enhancing effects on HIV-1 infection after single or repeated treatment with the purified MAbs at concentrations of 6 to 25 µg/ml. The enhancing domain is located between amino acids 724 and 752 of the env protein sequence. Homologous peptides based on this sequence were used for analysis of sera from 100 individuals at different stages of HIV infection to evaluate the relevance of antibodies against this region to the prognosis of disease. No antibodies reactive with this region were found in ELISA, indicating that this domain is not immunogenic in humans.


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