CD4 protein molecule

CD4 protein molecule

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Credit: DR TIM EVANS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: CD4 protein. Computer model of a molecule of the CD4 protein that plays a vital role in the immune system. Protein structural units are the cylinders (alpha helices) and the arrows (beta sheets). The CD4 protein is found on the surface of white blood cells called T-helper cells. As a surface protein, CD4 binds to the surface proteins on other cells and pathogenic micro-organisms. This interaction helps the T-helper cells to recognise a threat and initiate an immune response. CD4 also binds to HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) as part of the process by which HIV kills the T-helper cells and compromises the immune system. CD4 is a monomeric glycoprotein chain of around 450 amino acids.

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