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Retrovirus infection is initiated by the binding of virus envelope glycoprotein to a receptor molecule present on cell membranes. To characterize a receptor for feline leukemia virus (FeLV), we extensively purified the viral envelope glycoprotein, gp70, from culture supernatants of FeLV-61E (subgroup A)-infected cells by immunoaffinity chromatography. Binding of purified 125I-labeled gp70 to the feline T-cell line 3201 was specific and saturable, and Scatchard analysis revealed a single class of receptor binding sites with an average number of 1.6 x 10(5) receptors per cell and an apparent affinity constant (Ka) of 1.15 x 10(9) M-1. Cross-linking experiments identified a putative gp70-receptor complex of 135 to 140 kDa. Similarly, coprecipitation of 125I-labeled cell surface proteins with purified gp70 and a neutralizing but noninterfering anti-gp70 monoclonal antibody revealed a single cell surface protein of approximately 70 kDa. These results indicate that FeLV-A binds to feline T cells via a 70-kDa cell surface protein, its presumptive receptor.