In virology, a protein covering that packages the virus's genetic information. The outer coat, or envelope, of HIV is composed of two layers of fat-like molecules called lipids taken from the membranes of human cells. Embedded in the envelope are numerous cellular protein, as well as mushroom-shaped HIV proteins that protrude from the surface. Each mushroom is thought to consist of a cap made of four glycoprotein molecules called gp120 and a stem consisting of four gp41 molecules embedded in the envelope. The virus uses these proteins to attach to and infect cells. See also Glycoprotein; gp41; gp120; Lipid.
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