I'm no biologist, but curious of the answer to which I could not find online.

How are Human Immunodeficiency viruses able to detect and distinguish immune system cells with a CD4 receptor on the surface from other cells in the body, in particular other immune system cells without the receptor?

If I have asked the question on the wrong platform, please inform me otherwise.


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's not really a matter of "knowing", it's simply a complex chemical reaction. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf could you recommend me some reading in this topic? $\endgroup$
    – Lewis
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 20:37
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This paper, specifically the sections titled "HIV Entry Fundamentals" and "Discovery of the HIV Receptors", is a good resource. $\endgroup$
    – acvill
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ @acvill Thankyou very much! $\endgroup$
    – Lewis
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


The CD4 receptor is a protein complex that harbors very specific chemistry. A virus is able to bind with the receptor if it harbors a particular protein/set of proteins that are able to interact with the receptor. The virus is basically disguised as something the CD4 receptor recognizes, and from there it is internalized within the cell via a process called endocytosis. You can google viral endocytosis to learn more.


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