The genital tract of individuals infected with HIV-1 is an anatomic compartment that supports local HIV-1 and CMV replication. This study investigated the association of seminal CMV replication with changes in HIV-1 clonal expansion, evolution and phylogenetic compartmentalization between blood and semen. Fourteen paired blood and semen samples were analyzed from four untreated subjects. Clonal sequences (n=607) were generated from extracted HIV-1 RNA (env C2-V3 region), and HIV-1 and CMV levels were measured in the seminal plasma by real-time PCR. Sequence alignments were evaluated for: (i) viral compartmentalization between semen and blood samples using Slatkin-Maddison and FST methods, (ii) different nucleotide substitution rates in semen and blood, and (iii) association between proportions of clonal HIV-1 sequences in each compartment and seminal CMV levels. Half of the semen samples had detectable CMV DNA, with at least one CMV positive sample for each patient. Seminal CMV DNA levels correlated positively with seminal HIV-1 RNA levels (Spearman p=0.05). A trend towards an association between compartmentalization of HIV-1 sequences sampled from blood and semen and presence of seminal CMV was observed (Cochran Q test p=0.12). Evolutionary rates between semen and blood HIV-1 populations did not differ significantly, and there was no significant association between seminal CMV DNA levels and the frequency of non-unique clonal HIV-1 sequences in the semen. In conclusion, the effects of CMV replication on HIV-1 viral and immunologic dynamics within the male genital tract are not significant enough to perturb evolution or disrupt compartmentalization in the genital tract.
HIV-1; Cytomegalovirus; compartmentalization; evolution; semen
Different vaccine approaches cope with HIV-1
diversity, ranging from
antigens. For all these strategies, a concern
remains: how does HIV-1 diversity impact epitope
recognition by the immune system? We studied the
relationship between HIV-1 diversity and
CD8+ T Lymphocytes (CTL) targeting
of HIV-1 subtype B Nef using 944 peptides (10-mers
overlapping by nine amino acids (AA)) that
corresponded to consensus peptides and their most
common variants in the HIV-1-B virus population.
IFN-γ ELISpot assays were performed using
freshly isolated PBMC from 26 HIV-1-infected
persons. Three hundred and fifty peptides elicited
a response in at least one individual. Individuals
targeted a median of 7 discrete regions. Overall,
33% of responses were directed against
viral variants but not elicited against
consensus-based test peptides. However, there was
no significant relationship between the frequency
of a 10-mer in the viral population and either its
frequency of recognition (Spearman's
ρ = 0.24) or the
magnitude of the responses
(ρ = 0.16). We found that
peptides with a single mutation compared to the
consensus were likely to be recognized (especially
if the change was conservative) and to elicit
responses of similar magnitude as the consensus
peptide. Our results indicate that
cross-reactivity between rare and frequent
variants is likely to play a role in the expansion
of CTL responses, and that maximizing antigenic
diversity in a vaccine may increase the breadth
and depth of CTL responses. However, since there
are few obvious preferred pathways to virologic
escape, the diversity that may be required to
block all potential escape pathways may be too
large for a realistic vaccine to accommodate.
Furthermore, since peptides were not recognized
based on their frequency in the population, it
remains unclear by which mechanisms
variability-inclusive antigens (i.e., constructs
enriched with frequent variants) expand CTL
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) invades the central nervous system (CNS) shortly after systemic infection and can result in the subsequent development of HIV-1–associated dementia (HAD) in a subset of infected individuals. Genetically compartmentalized virus in the CNS is associated with HAD, suggesting autonomous viral replication as a factor in the disease process. We examined the source of compartmentalized HIV-1 in the CNS of subjects with HIV-1–associated neurological disease and in asymptomatic subjects who were initiating antiretroviral therapy. The heteroduplex tracking assay (HTA), targeting the variable regions of env, was used to determine which HIV-1 genetic variants in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were compartmentalized and which variants were shared with the blood plasma. We then measured the viral decay kinetics of individual variants after the initiation of antiretroviral therapy. Compartmentalized HIV-1 variants in the CSF of asymptomatic subjects decayed rapidly after the initiation of antiretroviral therapy, with a mean half-life of 1.57 days. Rapid viral decay was also measured for CSF-compartmentalized variants in four HAD subjects (t1/2 mean = 2.27 days). However, slow viral decay was measured for CSF-compartmentalized variants from an additional four subjects with neurological disease (t1/2 range = 9.85 days to no initial decay). The slow decay detected for CSF-compartmentalized variants was not associated with poor CNS drug penetration, drug resistant virus in the CSF, or the presence of X4 virus genotypes. We found that the slow decay measured for CSF-compartmentalized variants in subjects with neurological disease was correlated with low peripheral CD4 cell count and reduced CSF pleocytosis. We propose a model in which infiltrating macrophages replace CD4+ T cells as the primary source of productive viral replication in the CNS to maintain high viral loads in the CSF in a substantial subset of subjects with HAD.
Infection of the central nervous system (CNS) with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) can lead to the development of HIV-1–associated dementia, a severe neurological disease that results in cognitive and motor impairment. Individuals that are chronically infected with HIV-1 sometimes display unique viral variants in their cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that are not detected in the blood virus population, termed CSF-compartmentalized variants. The cell type that produces CSF-compartmentalized virus throughout the course of infection has not been determined. We used a sensitive assay to detect compartmentalized variants in the CSF of subjects with and without neurological disease, and then measured the decay kinetics of compartmentalized virus when subjects were starting antiretroviral therapy. We found that compartmentalized virus decays rapidly in asymptomatic subjects. Additionally, we detected differential decay (i.e. rapid or slow) in subjects with neurological disease, and this was associated with the number of white blood cells in the CSF. Our data supports a model of HIV-1 infection in the CNS where compartmentalized virus is produced by a long-lived cell type (slow decay), and this virus can be amplified by short-lived cells (rapid decay) that traffic into the CNS, but is increasingly produced from long-lived cells in the immunodeficient state.
HIV-1 is frequently detected in the lungs of infected individuals and is likely important in the development of pulmonary opportunistic infections. The unique environment of the lung, rich in alveolar macrophages and with specialized local immune responses, may contribute to differential evolution or selection of HIV-1.
Methodology and Findings
We characterized HIV-1 in the lung in relation to contemporaneous viral populations in the blood. The C2-V5 region of HIV-1 env was sequenced from paired lung (induced sputum or bronchoalveolar lavage) and blood (plasma RNA and proviral DNA from sorted or unsorted PBMC) from 18 subjects. Compartmentalization between tissue pairs was assessed using 5 established tree or distance-based methods, including permutation tests to determine statistical significance. We found statistical evidence of compartmentalization between lung and blood in 10/18 subjects, although lung and blood sequences were intermingled on phylogenetic trees in all subjects. The subject showing the greatest compartmentalization contained many nearly identical sequences in BAL sample, suggesting clonal expansion may contribute to reduced viral diversity in the lung in some cases. However, HIV-1 sequences in lung were not more homogeneous overall, nor were we able to find a lung-specific genotype associated with macrophage tropism in V3. In all four subjects in whom predicted X4 genotypes were found in blood, predicted X4 genotypes were also found in lung.
Our results support a picture of continuous migration of HIV-1 between circulating blood and lung tissue, with perhaps a very limited degree of localized evolution or clonal replication.
Because certain regions of the gag gene, such as p24, are highly conserved among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) isolates, many therapeutic strategies have been directed at gag gene targets. Although intrapatient variation of segments of gag have been determined, little is known about the variability of the full-length gag gene for HIV isolated from a single individual. To evaluate intrapatient full-length gag variability, we derived the nucleotide sequences of at least 10 cDNA gag clones of virion RNA isolated from plasma for each of four asymptomatic HIV type 1-infected patients with relatively high CD4+ T-cell counts (300 to 450 cells per mm3). Mean values of intrapatient gag nucleotide variation obtained by pairwise comparisons ranged from 0.55 to 2.86%. For three subjects, this value was equivalent to that reported for intrapatient full-length env variation. The greatest range of intrapatient mean nucleotide variation for individual protein-coding regions was observed for p7. We did not detect any G-to-A hypermutation, as A-to-G and G-to-A transitions occurred at similar frequencies, accounting for 29 and 25%, respectively, of the changes. Mean variation values and phylogenetic analysis suggested that the extent of nucleotide variation correlated with the length of viral infection. Furthermore, no distinct subpopulations of quasispecies were detectable within an individual. The predicted amino acid sequences indicated that there were no regions within a gag protein that were comprised of clustered changes.
To define the extent of sequence conservation in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT) in vivo, the first 320 amino acids of RT obtained from 2,236 plasma-derived samples from a well-defined cohort of 1,704 HIV-1-infected individuals (457 drug naïve and 1,247 drug treated) were analyzed and examined in structural terms. In naïve patients, 233 out of these 320 residues (73%) were conserved (<1% variability). The majority of invariant amino acids clustered into defined regions comprising between 5 and 29 consecutive residues. Of the nine longest invariant regions identified, some contained residues and domains critical for enzyme stability and function. In patients treated with RT inhibitors, despite profound drug pressure and the appearance of mutations primarily associated with resistance, 202 amino acids (63%) remained highly conserved and appeared mostly distributed in regions of variable length. This finding suggests that participation of consecutive residues in structural domains is strictly required for cooperative functions and sustainability of HIV-1 RT activity. Besides confirming the conservation of amino acids that are already known to be important for catalytic activity, stability of the heterodimer interface, and/or primer/template binding, the other 62 new invariable residues are now identified and mapped onto the three-dimensional structure of the enzyme. This new knowledge could be of help in the structure-based design of novel resistance-evading drugs.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection of the central nervous system (CNS) is a significant cause of morbidity. The requirements for HIV adaptation to the CNS for neuropathogenesis and the value of CSF virus as a surrogate for virus activity in brain parenchyma are not well established. We studied 18 HIV-infected subjects, most with advanced immunodeficiency and some neurocognitive impairment but none with evidence of opportunistic infection or malignancy of the CNS. Clonal sequences of C2-V3 env and population sequences of pol from HIV RNA in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma were correlated with clinical and virologic variables. Most (14 of 18) subjects had partitioning of C2-V3 sequences according to compartment, and 9 of 13 subjects with drug resistance exhibited discordant resistance patterns between the two compartments. Regression analyses identified three to seven positions in C2-V3 that discriminated CSF from plasma HIV. The presence of compartmental differences at one or more of the identified positions in C2-V3 was highly associated with the presence of discordant resistance (P = 0.007), reflecting the autonomous replication of HIV and the independent evolution of drug resistance in the CNS. Discordance of resistance was associated with severity of neurocognitive deficits (P = 0.07), while low nadir CD4 counts were linked both to the severity of neurocognitive deficits and to discordant resistance patterns (P = 0.05 and 0.09, respectively). These observations support the study of CSF HIV as an accessible surrogate for HIV virions in the brain, confirm the high frequency of discordant resistance in subjects with advanced disease in the absence of opportunistic infection or malignancy of the CNS, and begin to identify genetic patterns in HIV env associated with adaptation to the CNS.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine development requires selection of appropriate envelope (Env) immunogens. Twenty HIV-1 Env glycoproteins were examined for their ability to bind human anti-HIV-1 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) and then used as immunogens in guinea pigs to identify promising immunogens. These included five Envs derived from chronically infected individuals, each representing one of five common clades and eight consensus Envs based on these five clades, as well as the consensus of the entire HIV-1 M group, and seven transmitted/founder (T/F) Envs from clades B and C. Sera from immunized guinea pigs were tested for neutralizing activity using 36 HIV-1 Env-pseudotyped viruses. All Envs bound to CD4 binding site, membrane-proximal, and V1/V2 MAbs with similar apparent affinities, although the T/F Envs bound with higher affinity to the MAb 17b, a CCR5 coreceptor binding site antibody. However, the various Envs differed in their ability to induce neutralizing antibodies. Consensus Envs elicited the most potent responses, but neutralized only a subset of viruses, including mostly easy-to-neutralize tier 1 and some more-difficult-to-neutralize tier 2 viruses. T/F Envs elicited fewer potent neutralizing antibodies but exhibited greater breadth than chronic or consensus Envs. Finally, chronic Envs elicited the lowest level and most limited breadth of neutralizing antibodies overall. Thus, each group of Env immunogens elicited a different antibody response profile. The complementary benefits of consensus and T/F Env immunogens raise the possibility that vaccines utilizing a combination of consensus and T/F Envs may be able to induce neutralizing responses with greater breadth and potency than single Env immunogens.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been detected in the brain tissues of 10 individuals reported to date; it is unclear what clinical factors are associated with this, and with what frequency it occurs. Accordingly, a pilot analysis utilizing reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT- PCR) to detect and sequence HCV in premortem plasma and postmortem brain and liver from 20 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected and 10 HIV-naïve individuals was undertaken. RNA encoding the first 126 amino acids of the HCV E1 envelope protein and the majority of the E1 signal sequence was analyzed in parallel with an 80-base-long segment of the 5′ untranslated region (UTR). Liver HCV was detected only in subjects with premortem HCV viremia (10 HIV-infected and 3 HIV-naïve). Brain HCV was detected in 6/10 HCV/HIV-coinfected and 1/3 HCV-monoinfected subjects. In the setting of HIV, the magnitude of plasma HCV load did not correlate with the presence of brain HCV. However, coinfected patients with brain HCV were more often off antiretroviral therapy and tended to have higher plasma HIV loads than those with HCV restricted to liver. Furthermore, premortem cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis revealed that HCV/HIV-coinfected patients with brain HCV had detectable CSF HIV, whereas those without brain HCV had undetectable CSF HIV loads (P = .0205). Neuropsychologic tests showed a trend for hierarchical impairment of abstraction/executive functioning in HIV/HCV coinfection, with mean T scores for HIV monoinfected patients 43.2 (7.3), for liver-only HCV 39.5 (9.0), and for those with HCV in brain and liver 33.2 (5.1) (P = .0927). Predominant brain HCV sequences did not match those of the plasma or liver in 4 of the 6 coinfected patients analyzed. We conclude that in the setting of HIV/HCV coinfection, brain HCV is a common phenomenon unrelated to the magnitude of HCV viremia, but related to active HIV disease and detectable CSF HIV. Furthermore, there is sequence evidence of brain compartmentalization. Differences in abstraction/executive function of HCV/HIV coinfected patients compared to HIV monoinfected warrant further studies to determine if neuropsychiatric effects are predicated upon brain infection.
brain; cognition; hepatitis C virus; HIV
We have studied the antibody responses to Env and Gag antigens of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in several cohorts of HIV-1-infected individuals: long-term nonprogressors, progressors to disease, acute seroconvertors, and recipients of HIV-1 protease inhibitors. We conclude that the antibody responses to Env and Gag antigens are differentially regulated and that changes in the plasma viral load in the measurable range (500 to 10(8) RNA copies per ml) do not directly affect the antibody responses to these HIV-1 proteins. We provide quantitative estimates of HIV-1-specific immunoglobulin G concentrations in plasma, which can be in excess of 1 mg/ml for both anti-gp120 and anti-p24 once the immune response to HIV-1 has stabilized after seroconversion. We discuss the apparent paradox that the absence of anti-Gag antibodies (which have, at best, limited antiviral activity) is indicative of disease progression, while the retention of anti-Env antibodies (which do have antiviral activity) is of limited (or no) prognostic value. We show that the disappearance of anti-Gag antibodies during disease progression is highly unlikely to be due to immune complexing; instead, we believe that it reflects the loss of T-cell help that is more necessary for the anti-Gag than the anti-Env response.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or AIDS is currently the leading cause of death in Uganda, with at least three HIV clades (subtypes) accounting for most new infections. Whether an effective vaccine formulated on viruses from a single clade will be able to protect against infection from other local clades remains unresolved. We examined the T-cell immune responses from a cohort of HIV-seropositive individuals in Uganda with predominantly clade A and D infections. Surprisingly, we observed similar frequencies of cross-clade T-cell responses to the gag, env, and nef regions. Our data suggest that the level of viral sequence variability between distinct HIV strains does not predict the degree of cross-clade responses. High sequence homologies were also observed between consensus peptides and sequences from viral isolates, supporting the use of consensus amino acid sequences to identify immunogenic regions in studies of large populations.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-associated dementia (HAD) is a severe neurological disease that affects a subset of HIV-1-infected individuals. Increased compartmentalization has been reported between blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) HIV-1 populations in subjects with HAD, but it is still not known when compartmentalization arises during the course of infection. To assess HIV-1 genetic compartmentalization early during infection, we compared HIV-1 populations in the peripheral blood and CSF in 11 primary infection subjects, with analysis of longitudinal samples over the first 18 months for a subset of subjects. We used heteroduplex tracking assays targeting the variable regions of env and single-genome amplification and sequence analysis of the full-length env gene to identify CSF-compartmentalized variants and to examine viral genotypes within the compartmentalized populations. For most subjects, HIV-1 populations were equilibrated between the blood and CSF compartments. However, compartmentalized HIV-1 populations were detected in the CSF of three primary infection subjects, and longitudinal analysis of one subject revealed that compartmentalization during primary HIV-1 infection was resolved. Clonal amplification of specific HIV-1 variants was identified in the CSF population of one primary infection subject. Our data show that compartmentalization can occur in the central nervous system (CNS) of subjects in primary HIV-1 infection in part through persistence of the putative transmitted parental variant or via viral genetic adaptation to the CNS environment. The presence of distinct HIV-1 populations in the CSF indicates that independent HIV-1 replication can occur in the CNS, even early after HIV-1 transmission.
Investigation of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in the genital tract of women is crucial to the development of vaccines and therapies. Previous analyses of HIV-1 in various anatomic sites have documented compartmentalization, with viral sequences from each location that were distinct yet phylogenetically related. Full-length RNA genomes derived from different compartments in the same individual, however, have not yet been studied. Furthermore, although there is evidence that intrapatient recombination may occur frequently, recombinants comprising viruses from different sites within one individual have rarely been documented. We compared full-length HIV-1 RNA sequences in the plasma and female genital tract, focusing on a woman with high HIV-1 RNA loads in each compartment who had been infected heterosexually and then transmitted HIV-1 by the same route. We cloned and sequenced 10 full-length HIV-1 RNA genomes from her genital tract and 10 from her plasma. We also compared viral genomes from the genital tract and plasma of four additional heterosexually infected women, sequencing 164 env and gag clones obtained from the two sites. Four of five women, including the one whose complete viral sequences were determined, displayed compartmentalized HIV-1 genomes. Analyses of full-length, compartmentalized sequences made it possible to document complex intrapatient HIV-1 recombinants that were composed of alternating viral sequences characteristic of each site. These findings demonstrate that the genital tract and blood harbor genetically distinct populations of replicating HIV-1 and provide evidence that recombination between strains from the two compartments contributes to rapid evolution of viral sequence variation in infected individuals.
The extent of nucleotide variation within the HIV-1 env hypervariable domains serves as a marker of virus genotypes within infected individuals and as a means to track transmission of the virus between individuals. We analyzed env V1 and V2 sequences in longitudinal samples from two HIV-1-infected mothers, each with three children infected by maternal transmission of the virus. Sequences in samples that were obtained from two infants at 2 d and 4 wk after birth displayed more variation in V1 and V2 than maternal samples obtained at the same times. Multiple HIV-1 genotypes were identified in each mother. In each family, multiple maternal HIV-1 genotypes were transmitted to the infants. Specific amino acid residues in the hypervariable domains were conserved within sequences from each family producing a family-specific amino acid signature pattern in V1 and V2. Viruses that were highly related to maternal viruses in signature pattern persisted for as long as 4 yr in the older children. Results support a model of transmission involving multiple HIV-1 genotypes with development of genetic variation from differential outgrowth and accumulation of genetic changes within each individual.
Viral RNA was extracted from plasma samples collected from five individuals during the period of viremia before seroconversion in primary infection with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and amplified by polymerase chain reaction. Nucleotide sequence analysis of amplified DNA from the V3 and V4 hypervariable regions indicated that the initial virus population of each acutely infected individual was completely homogeneous in sequence. No intrasample variability was found among the 44,090 nucleotides sequenced in this region of env, contrasting with the high degree of variability normally found in seropositive individuals. Paradoxically, substantial sequence variability was found in the normally high conserved gag gene (encoding p17) in most of the preseroconversion samples. The diversity of p17 sequences in samples that were homogeneous in V3 and V4 can most readily be explained by the existence of strong selection for specific env sequences either upon transmission or in the interval between exposure and seroconversion in the exposed individual. Evidence that localizes the selected region upon transmission to V3 is provided by the similarity or identity of V3 loop sequences in five individuals with epidemiologically unrelated HIV-1 infections, while regions flanking the V3 loop and the V4 hypervariable region were highly divergent. The actual V3 sequences were similar to those associated with macrophage tropism in primary isolates of HIV, irrespective of whether infection was acquired by sexual contact or parenterally through transfusion of contaminated factor VIII. Proviral DNA sequences in peripheral blood mononuclear cells remained homogeneous in the V3 and V4 regions (and variable in p17gag) for several months after seroconversion. The persistence of HIV sequences in peripheral blood mononuclear cells identical to those found at primary infection in the absence of continued virus expression provides an explanation for the previously observed differences in the composition of circulating DNA and RNA populations in sequential samples from seropositive individuals.
The “glycan shield” exposed on the surface of the HIV-1 gp120 env glycoprotein has been previously proposed as a novel target for anti-HIV treatments. While such targeting of these glycans provides an exciting prospect for HIV treatment, little is known about the conservation and variability of glycosylation patterns within and between the various HIV-1 group M subtypes and circulating recombinant forms. Here, we present evidence of strong strain-specific glycosylation patterns and show that the epitope for the 2G12 neutralising antibody is poorly conserved across HIV-1 group M. The unique glycosylation patterns within the HIV-1 group M subtypes and CRFs appear to explain their varying susceptibility to neutralisation by broadly cross-neutralising (BCN) antibodies. Compensatory glycosylation at linearly distant yet three-dimensionally proximal amino acid positions appears to maintain the integrity of the glycan shield while conveying resistance to neutralisation by BCN antibodies. We find that highly conserved clusters of glycosylated residues do exist on the gp120 trimer surface and suggest that these positions may provide an exciting target for the development of BCN anticarbohydrate therapies.
The reactivities of 1,172 serum samples obtained from asymptomatic human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-positive and HIV-1-negative individuals residing in Mexico to a synthetic disulfide-looped peptide from the HIV-1 gp41 (amino acids 602 to 616 [IWGCSGKLICTTAVP] were examined by an enzyme-linked immunoadsorbent assay (ELISA) procedure. Antibodies to the synthetic peptide were detected in 261 of 268 serum samples from HIV-positive individuals (sensitivity, 97.4%). The peptide also reacted with 12 of 904 serum samples from control HIV-negative individuals (specificity, 98.7%). Western blots (immunoblots) of four of the seven serum samples that produced false-negative results in the ELISA showed that three of them reacted weakly with gp41 and strongly with gp120, p55, and/or p24. Potential diagnostic difficulties raised by the reported C1q binding capacity of this peptide were also evaluated: few and weak false-positive results were found among sera from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (1 of 31) and neurocysticercosis (2 of 111). In fact, strong reactivity with the peptide spotted an undetected HIV infection underlying clinical neurocysticercosis.
An assay that quantifies the amount of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) DNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells has been developed. PCR amplification of the HIV-1 DNA is performed in the presence of an internal quantitation standard, and colorimetric detection of the amplified product is performed with microwell plates. The copies of HIV-1 DNA are normalized to total genomic DNA input. The assay has an analytical sensitivity of 10 input copies per amplification reaction and a three-log detection range. In an analysis of sequential samples from patients on combination therapy, HIV-1 DNA was quantifiable for all individuals tested, including those with undetectable plasma HIV-1 RNA. In a separate study, a comparison of HIV-1 DNA levels was made with a group of long-term survivors and progressors. The mean HIV-1 DNA levels were lower in the long-term survivors than in the progressors (P, 0.04). The mean HIV-1 RNA levels were also lower, but the difference was not statistically significant (P, 0.164). A quantitative DNA assay will provide an additional tool to gain insight into the natural history of infection and the continued efficacy of potent antiretroviral therapies.
HIV transmission via breastfeeding accounts for a considerable proportion of infant HIV acquisition. However, the origin and evolution of the virus population in breast milk, the likely reservoir of transmitted virus variants, are not well characterized. In this study, HIV envelope (env) genes were sequenced from virus variants amplified by single-genome amplification from plasmas and milk of 12 chronically HIV-infected, lactating Malawian women. Maximum likelihood trees and statistical tests of compartmentalization revealed interspersion of plasma and milk HIV env sequences in the majority of subjects, indicating limited or no compartmentalization of milk virus variants. However, phylogenetic tree analysis further revealed monotypic virus variants that were significantly more frequent in milk (median proportion of identical viruses, 29.5%; range, 0 to 61%) than in plasma (median proportion of identical viruses, 0%; range, 0 to 26%) (P = 0.002), suggesting local virus replication in the breast milk compartment. Moreover, clonally amplified virus env genes in milk produced functional virus Envs that were all CCR5 tropic. Milk and plasma virus Envs had similar predicted phenotypes and neutralization sensitivities to broadly neutralizing antibodies in both transmitting and nontransmitting mothers. Finally, phylogenetic comparison of longitudinal milk and plasma virus env sequences revealed synchronous virus evolution and new clonal amplification of evolved virus env genes in milk. The limited compartmentalization and the clonal amplification of evolving, functional viruses in milk indicate continual seeding of the mammary gland by blood virus variants, followed by transient local replication of these variants in the breast milk compartment.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) are thought to exert immunologic selection pressure in infected persons, yet few data regarding the effects of this constraint on viral sequence variation in vivo, particularly in the highly variable Env protein, are available. In this study, CD8+ HIV type 1 (HIV-1) envelope-specific CTL clones specific for gp120 were isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of four HIV-infected individuals, all of which recognized the same 25-amino-acid (aa) peptide (aa 371 to 395), which is partially contained in the CD4-binding domain of HIV-1 gp120. Fine mapping studies revealed that two of the clones optimally recognized the 9-aa sequence 375 to 383 (SFNCGGEFF), while the two other clones optimally recognized the epitope contained in the overlapping 9-aa sequence 376 to 384 (FNCGGEFFY). Lysis of target cells by the two clones recognizing aa 375 to 383 was restricted by HLA B15 and Cw4, respectively, whereas both clones recognizing aa 376 to 384 were restricted by HLA A29. Sequence variation, relative to the IIIB strain sequence used to identify CTL clones, was observed in autologous viruses in the epitope-containing region in all four subjects. However, poorly recognized autologous sequence variants were predominantly seen for the A29-restricted clones, whereas the clones specific for SFNCGGEFF continued to recognize the predominant autologous sequences. These results suggest that the HLA profile of an individual may not only be important in determining the specificity of CTL recognition but may also affect the ability to recognize virus variants and suppress escape from CTL recognition. These results also identify overlapping viral CTL epitopes which can be presented by HLA A, B, and C molecules.
The routine determination of drug resistance in newly HIV-1 infected individuals documents a potential increase in the transmission of drug-resistant variants. Plasma samples from twenty seven therapy naive HIV-1 infected Italian patients were analyzed by the line probe assay (LIPA) and the TruGene HIV-1 assay for the detection of mutations conferring resistance to HIV-1.
Both tests disclosed amino-acid substitutions associated with resistance in a variable number of patients. In particular, two mutations (K70R and V118I), detectable by LIPA and by sequencing analysis respectively, revealed resistance to NRTIs in two plasma samples. At least three mutations conferring resistance to NNRTIs, not detectable by commercial LIPA, able to reveal mutations associated only with nucleoside reverse transcriptase analogues, were disclosed by viral sequence analysis. Moreover, most samples showed mutations correlated with resistance to protease inhibitors. Remarkably, a key mutation, like V82A (found as a mixture), and some "indeterminate" results (9 samples), due the absence of signal on the lines corresponding to a specific probe, was revealed only by LIPA, while a variable number of secondary mutations was detectable only by TruGene HIV-1 assay.
Even if further studies are necessary to establish the impact of different tests on the evaluation of drug-resistant strains transmission, LIPA might be useful in a wide population analysis, where bulk results are needed in a short time, while sequencing analysis, able to detect mutations conferring resistance to both NRTIs and NNRTIs, might be considered a more complete assay, albeit more expensive and more technically complex.
The great majority of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) strains enter CD4+ target cells by interacting with one of two coreceptors, CCR5 or CXCR4. Here we describe a transmitted/founder (T/F) virus (ZP6248) that was profoundly impaired in its ability to utilize CCR5 and CXCR4 coreceptors on multiple CD4+ cell lines as well as primary human CD4+ T cells and macrophages in vitro yet replicated to very high titers (>80 million RNA copies/ml) in an acutely infected individual. Interestingly, the envelope (Env) glycoprotein of this clade B virus had a rare GPEK sequence in the crown of its third variable loop (V3) rather than the consensus GPGR sequence. Extensive sequencing of sequential plasma samples showed that the GPEK sequence was present in virtually all Envs, including those from the earliest time points after infection. The molecularly cloned (single) T/F virus was able to replicate, albeit poorly, in cells obtained from ccr5Δ32 homozygous donors. The ZP6248 T/F virus could also infect cell lines overexpressing the alternative coreceptors GPR15, APJ, and FPRL-1. A single mutation in the V3 crown sequence (GPEK->GPGK) of ZP6248 restored its infectivity in CCR5+ cells but reduced its ability to replicate in GPR15+ cells, indicating that the V3 crown motif played an important role in usage of this alternative coreceptor. These results suggest that the ZP6248 T/F virus established an acute in vivo infection by using coreceptor(s) other than CCR5 or CXCR4 or that the CCR5 coreceptor existed in an unusual conformation in this individual.
It is unresolved whether recently transmitted human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) have genetic features that specifically favour their transmissibility. To identify potential “transmission signatures”, we compared 20 full-length HIV-1 subtype C genomes from primary infections, with 66 sampled from ethnically and geographically matched individuals with chronic infections. Controlling for recombination and phylogenetic relatedness, we identified 39 sites at which amino acid frequency spectra differed significantly between groups. These sites were predominantly located within Env, Pol and Gag (14/39, 9/39 and 6/39 respectively) and were significantly clustered (33/39) within known immunoreactive peptides. Within 6 months of infection we detected reversion-to-consensus mutations at 14 sites and potential CTL escape mutations at seven. Here we provide evidence that frequent reversion mutations probably allows the virus to recover replicative fitness which, together with immune escape driven by the HLA alleles of the new hosts, differentiate sequences from chronic infections from those sampled shortly after transmission.
HIV; subtype C; primary infection; immune escape; reversion
HIV infections are initiated by a limited number of variants that diverge into a diverse quasispecies swarm. During in utero mother-to-child transmission (IU MTCT), transmitted viral variants must pass through multiple unique environments, and our previously published data suggest a nonstochastic model of transmission. As an alternative to a stochastic model of viral transmission, we hypothesize that viral selection in the placental environment influences the character of the viral quasispecies when HIV-1 is transmitted in utero. To test this hypothesis, we used single-template amplification to isolate HIV-1 envelope gene (env) sequences from both peripheral plasma and the placentas of eight nontransmitting (NT) and nine IU-transmitting participants. Statistically significant compartmentalization between peripheral and placental HIV-1 env was detected in one of the eight NT cases and six of the nine IU MTCT cases. In addition, viral sequences isolated from IU MTCT placental tissue showed variation in env V1 loop lengths compared to matched maternal sequences, while NT placental env sequences did not. Finally, comparison of env sequences from NT and IU MTCT participants indicated statistically significant differences in Kyte-Doolittle hydropathy in the signal peptide, C2, V3, and C3 regions. Our working hypothesis is that the hydropathy differences in Env associated with IU MTCT alter viral cellular tropism or affinity, allowing HIV-1 to efficiently infect placentally localized cells.
Compartmental differences in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) between the gut and peripheral blood and within the gut were examined. Biopsy specimens from the colon and ileum and peripheral blood samples were collected from chronically HIV-1–infected individuals. HIV-1 envelope sequences were examined from cell-associated DNA and RNA and virion RNA. Phylogenetic analysis revealed no evidence of compartmentalization of HIV-1 between the gut and peripheral blood and within the gut (colon and ileum). HIV-1 sequences detected in the gut were transcriptionally active and were also found in peripheral blood from matching time points, providing evidence of ongoing virus production in the gut and equilibrium of HIV-1 between the gut and peripheral blood compartments.