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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course HIV: Structure, Replication, and Detection. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Adsorption, continued

Once the gp120 drops down and binds with CD4 and the co-receptor, the HIV spike is exposed. The spike is a glycoprotein with a molecular weight of 41 kilodaltons.
This gp41 molecule acts much like a spring-loaded lancet. Once triggered into action by the attachment of the gp120 to the CD4 and co-receptor, the gp41 protein springs out and pierces the membrane of the host cell.