Human Immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV) entry into target cells involves binding of the viral envelope (Env) to CD4 and a coreceptor, mainly CCR5 or CXCR4. The only currently licensed HIV entry inhibitor, maraviroc, targets CCR5, and the presence of CXCX4-using strains must be excluded prior to treatment. Co-receptor usage can be assessed by phenotypic assays or through genotypic prediction. Here we compared the performance of a phenotypic Env-Recombinant Viral Assay (RVA) to the two most widely used genotypic prediction algorithms, Geno2Pheno[coreceptor] and webPSSM.
Co-receptor tropism of samples from 73 subtype B and 219 non-B infections was measured phenotypically using a luciferase-tagged, NL4-3-based, RVA targeting Env. In parallel, tropism was inferred genotypically from the corresponding V3-loop sequences using Geno2Pheno[coreceptor] (5–20% FPR) and webPSSM-R5X4. For discordant samples, phenotypic outcome was retested using co-receptor antagonists or the validated Trofile® Enhanced-Sensitivity-Tropism-Assay.
The lower detection limit of the RVA was 2.5% and 5% for X4 and R5 minority variants respectively. A phenotype/genotype result was obtained for 210 samples. Overall, concordance of phenotypic results with Geno2Pheno[coreceptor] was 85.2% and concordance with webPSSM was 79.5%. For subtype B, concordance with Geno2pheno[coreceptor] was 94.4% and concordance with webPSSM was 79.6%. High concordance of genotypic tools with phenotypic outcome was seen for subtype C (90% for both tools). Main discordances involved CRF01_AE and CRF02_AG for both algorithms (CRF01_AE: 35.9% discordances with Geno2Pheno[coreceptor] and 28.2% with webPSSM; CRF02_AG: 20.7% for both algorithms). Genotypic prediction overestimated CXCR4-usage for both CRFs. For webPSSM, 40% discordance was observed for subtype A.
Phenotypic assays remain the most accurate for most non-B subtypes and new subtype-specific rules should be developed for non-B subtypes, as research studies more and more draw conclusions from genotypically-inferred tropism, and to avoid unnecessarily precluding patients with limited treatment options from receiving maraviroc or other entry inhibitors.
HIV-1 subtype D infections have been associated with rapid disease progression and phenotypic assays have shown that CXCR4-using viruses are very prevalent. Recent studies indicate that the genotypic algorithms used routinely to assess HIV-1 tropism may lack accuracy for non-B subtypes. Little is known about the genotypic determinants of HIV-1 subtype D tropism.
We determined the HIV-1 coreceptor usage for 32 patients infected with subtype D by both a recombinant virus phenotypic entry assay and V3-loop sequencing to determine the correlation between them. The sensitivity of the Geno2pheno10 genotypic algorithm was 75% and that of the combined 11/25 and net charge rule was 100% for predicting subtype D CXCR4 usage, but their specificities were poor (54% and 68%). We have identified subtype D determinants in the V3 region associated with CXCR4 use and built a new simple genotypic rule for optimizing the genotypic prediction of HIV-1 subtype D tropism. We validated this algorithm using an independent GenBank data set of 67 subtype D V3 sequences of viruses of known phenotype. The subtype D genotypic algorithm was 68% sensitive and 95% specific for predicting X4 viruses in this data set, approaching the performance of genotypic prediction of HIV-1 subtype B tropism.
The genotypic determinants of HIV-1 subtype D coreceptor usage are slightly different from those for subtype B viruses. Genotypic predictions based on a subtype D-specific algorithm appear to be preferable for characterizing coreceptor usage in epidemiological and pathophysiological studies.
In human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtype B, CXCR4 coreceptor use ranges from ∼20% in early infection to ∼50% in advanced disease. Coreceptor use by non-subtype B HIV is less well characterized. We studied coreceptor tropism of subtype A and D HIV-1 collected from 68 pregnant, antiretroviral drug-naive Ugandan women (HIVNET 012 trial). None of 33 subtype A or 10 A/D-recombinant viruses used the CXCR4 coreceptor. In contrast, nine (36%) of 25 subtype D viruses used both CXCR4 and CCR5 coreceptors. Clonal analyses of the nine subtype D samples with dual or mixed tropism revealed heterogeneous viral populations comprised of X4-, R5-, and dual-tropic HIV-1 variants. In five of the six samples with dual-tropic strains, V3 loop sequences of dual-tropic clones were identical to those of cocirculating R5-tropic clones, indicating the presence of CXCR4 tropism determinants outside of the V3 loop. These dual-tropic variants with R5-tropic-like V3 loops, which we designated “dual-R,” use CCR5 much more efficiently than CXCR4, in contrast to dual-tropic clones with X4-tropic-like V3 loops (“dual-X”). These observations have implications for pathogenesis and treatment of subtype D-infected individuals, for the association between V3 sequence and coreceptor tropism phenotype, and for understanding potential mechanisms of evolution from exclusive CCR5 use to efficient CXCR4 use by subtype D HIV-1.
HIV-1 is one of the fastest evolving pathogens, and is distinguished by geographic and genetic variants that have been classified into different subtypes and circulating recombinant forms (CRFs). Early in infection the primary coreceptor is CCR5, but during disease course CXCR4-using HIV-1 populations may emerge. This has been correlated with accelerated disease progression in HIV-1 subtype B. Basic knowledge of HIV-1 coreceptor tropism is important due to the recent introduction of coreceptor antagonists in antiretroviral therapy, and subtype-specific differences regarding how frequently HIV-1 CXCR4-using populations appear in late-stage disease need to be further investigated. To study how frequently CXCR4-using populations appear in late-stage disease among HIV-1 subtype A and CRF02_AG, we evaluated the accuracy of a recombinant virus phenotypic assay for these subtypes, and used it to determine the HIV-1 coreceptor tropism of plasma samples collected during late-stage disease in Guinea-Bissau. We also performed a genotypic analysis and investigated subtype-specific differences in the appearance of CXCR4 tropism late in disease.
We found that the recombinant virus phenotypic assay accurately predicted HIV-1 coreceptor tropism of subtype A and CRF02_AG. Over the study period (1997-2007), we found an increasing and generally high frequency of CXCR4 tropism (86%) in CRF02_AG. By sequence analysis of the V3 region of our samples we developed a novel genotypic rule for predicting CXCR4 tropism in CRF02_AG, based on the combined criteria of the total number of charged amino acids and net charge. This rule had higher sensitivity than previously described genotypic rules and may be useful for development of future genotypic tools for this CRF. Finally, we conducted a literature analysis, combining data of 498 individuals in late-stage disease, and found high amounts of CXCR4 tropism for all major HIV-1 subtypes (60-77%), except for subtype C (15%).
The increase in CXCR4 tropism over time suggests an evolving epidemic of CRF02_AG. The results of the literature analysis demonstrate the need for further studies investigating subtype-specific emergence for CXCR4-tropism; this may be particularly important due to the introduction of CCR5-antagonists in HIV treatment regimens.
Inferring viral tropism from genotype is a fast and inexpensive alternative to phenotypic testing. While being highly predictive when performed on clonal samples, sensitivity of predicting CXCR4-using (X4) variants drops substantially in clinical isolates. This is mainly attributed to minor variants not detected by standard bulk-sequencing. Massively parallel sequencing (MPS) detects single clones thereby being much more sensitive. Using this technology we wanted to improve genotypic prediction of coreceptor usage.
Plasma samples from 55 antiretroviral-treated patients tested for coreceptor usage with the Monogram Trofile Assay were sequenced with standard population-based approaches. Fourteen of these samples were selected for further analysis with MPS. Tropism was predicted from each sequence with geno2pheno[coreceptor].
Prediction based on bulk-sequencing yielded 59.1% sensitivity and 90.9% specificity compared to the trofile assay. With MPS, 7600 reads were generated on average per isolate. Minorities of sequences with high confidence in CXCR4-usage were found in all samples, irrespective of phenotype. When using the default false-positive-rate of geno2pheno[coreceptor] (10%), and defining a minority cutoff of 5%, the results were concordant in all but one isolate.
The combination of MPS and coreceptor usage prediction results in a fast and accurate alternative to phenotypic assays. The detection of X4-viruses in all isolates suggests that coreceptor usage as well as fitness of minorities is important for therapy outcome. The high sensitivity of this technology in combination with a quantitative description of the viral population may allow implementing meaningful cutoffs for predicting response to CCR5-antagonists in the presence of X4-minorities.
Most human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) strains require either the CXCR4 or CCR5 chemokine receptor to efficiently enter cells. Blocking viral binding to these coreceptors is an attractive therapeutic target. Currently, several coreceptor antagonists are being evaluated in clinical trials that require characterization of coreceptor tropism for enrollment. In this report, we describe the development of an automated and accurate procedure for determining HIV-1 coreceptor tropism (Trofile) and its validation for routine laboratory testing. HIV-1 pseudoviruses are generated using full-length env genes derived from patient virus populations. Coreceptor tropism is determined by measuring the abilities of these pseudovirus populations to efficiently infect CD4+/U87 cells expressing either the CXCR4 or CCR5 coreceptor. Viruses exclusively and efficiently infecting CXCR4+/CD4+/U87 cells are designated X4-tropic. Conversely, viruses exclusively and efficiently infecting CCR5+/CD4+/U87 cells are designated R5-tropic. Viruses capable of infecting both CXCR4+/CD4+/U87 and CCR5+/CD4+/U87 cells are designated dual/mixed-tropic. Assay accuracy and reproducibility were established by evaluating the tropisms of well-characterized viruses and the variability among replicate results from samples tested repeatedly. The viral subtype, hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus coinfection, and the plasma viral load did not affect assay performance. Minority subpopulations with alternate tropisms were reliably detected when present at 5 to 10%. The plasma viral load above which samples can be amplified efficiently in the Trofile assay is 1,000 copies per ml of plasma. Trofile has been automated for high-throughput use; it can be used to identify patients most likely to benefit from treatment regimens that include a coreceptor inhibitor and to monitor patients on treatment for the emergence of resistant virus populations that switch coreceptor tropism.
Genotypic tests are the most common methods to identify patients eligible for CCR5 inhibitors administration in Europe. Among the available tools geno2pheno coreceptor (G2P) is the most used online system in routine diagnostics. This study was conceived to assess if the combination of G2P prediction with V3 peptide net charge (NC) value could improve the accuracy of tropism prediction. Sequences (129) were analyzed by G2P according to European Guidelines. NC values were calculated by the online software Peptide Property Calculator. Phenotypic assay was performed cloning the complete env gene into pcDNA 3.1 TOPO vector; infectivity of pseudotyped virions was tested on U87_CD4+CCR5+ and U87_CD4+CXCR4+ cells lines to assess viral tropism. Sequences were stratified into 3 groups according to the agreement between NC values and G2P results. Group 1: sequences assigned to the same group by both tools, group 2: sequences assigned to one group by G2P but indeterminate by NC and group 3: sequences for which G2P and NC gave discordant results. 61% of sequences predicted as X4 by G2P showed NC values higher than 5; similarly, 76% of sequences predicted as R5 by G2P had NC values below 4 (Group 1). Sequences with NC values between 4 and 5 (Group 2) were associated to different G2P predictions: 59% samples were predicted as R5-tropic and 41% sequences as X4-tropic. These data support the hypothesis that 4 to 5 NC values could be associated to the presence of dual/mixed-tropic variants (DM). Sequences identified as X4 by NC value had at least one positive residue in positions known to be involved in tropism prediction (58%) and positive residues in position 32 (39%). To further verify NC-based prediction, phenotypic assay was performed on a subset of sequences from each group. The assay confirmed the tropism prediction for group 1 sequences and demonstrated that the variants with net charge between 4 and 5 have DM tropism. Moreover, in vitro phenotyping of discordant viruses confirmed NC result, showing that this parameter is strongly associated with phenotypic assay. These results show that the combination of G2P and NC could increase the accuracy of tropism prediction and the ability to discriminate DM viruses. A more reliable identification of X4 variants would be useful for better selecting candidates for maraviroc administration, but also as a predictive marker in coreceptor switching, strongly associated to the phase of infection.
The emergence of CXCR4-using human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) variants is associated with accelerated disease progression. CXCR4-using variants are believed to evolve from CCR5-using variants, but due to the extremely low frequency at which transitional intermediate variants are often present, the kinetics and mutational pathways involved in this process have been difficult to study and are therefore poorly understood. Here, we used ultra-deep sequencing of the V3 loop of the viral envelope in combination with the V3-based coreceptor prediction tools PSSMNSI/SI and geno2pheno[coreceptor] to detect HIV-1 variants during the transition from CCR5- to CXCR4-usage. We analyzed PBMC and serum samples obtained from eight HIV-1-infected individuals at three-month intervals up to one year prior to the first phenotypic detection of CXCR4-using variants in the MT-2 assay. Between 3,482 and 10,521 reads were generated from each sample. In all individuals, V3 sequences of predicted CXCR4-using HIV-1 were detected at least three months prior to phenotypic detection of CXCR4-using variants in the MT-2 assay. Subsequent analysis of the genetic relationships of these V3 sequences using minimum spanning trees revealed that the transition in coreceptor usage followed a stepwise mutational pathway involving sequential intermediate variants, which were generally present at relatively low frequencies compared to the major predicted CCR5- and CXCR4-using variants. In addition, we observed differences between individuals with respect to the number of predicted CXCR4-using variants, the diversity among major predicted CCR5-using variants, and the presence or absence of intermediate variants with discordant phenotype predictions. These results provide the first detailed description of the mutational pathways in V3 during the transition from CCR5- to CXCR4-usage in natural HIV-1 infection.
The first step in the infection of a target cell by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is binding of the envelope spike to its receptor CD4 and a coreceptor on the cellular surface. HIV-1 variants present early in the course of infection mainly use the coreceptor CCR5, while virus variants that use CXCR4 can appear later in infection. This change in coreceptor usage is associated with mutations in the third variable (V3) loop of the envelope spike, but has been difficult to study due to the low presence of intermediate variants. Using ultra-deep sequencing, we obtained thousands of sequences of the V3 loop from HIV-1 infected individuals in the year before CXCR4-using variants were first detected, including sequences from almost all intermediate variants. We show that mutations are introduced sequentially in the V3 loop during the evolution from CCR5- to CXCR4-usage. Furthermore, we describe differences and similarities between HIV-1-infected individuals that are related to this change in coreceptor usage, which provides the first detailed overview of this evolutionary process during natural HIV-1 infection.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) tropism can be assessed using phenotypic assays, but this is quite laborious, expensive, and time-consuming and can be made only in sophisticated laboratories. More accessible albeit reliable tools for testing of HIV-1 tropism are needed in view of the prompt introduction of CCR5 antagonists in clinical practice. Bioinformatics tools based on V3 sequences might help to predict HIV-1 tropism; however, most of these methods have been designed by taking only genetic information derived from HIV-1 subtype B into consideration. The aim of this study was to evaluate the performances of several genotypic tools to predict HIV-1 tropism in non-B subtypes, as data on this issue are scarce. Plasma samples were tested using a new phenotypic tropism assay (Phenoscript-tropism; Eurofins), and results were compared with estimates of coreceptor usage using eight different genotypic predictor softwares (Support Vector Machine [SVM], C4.5, C4.5 with positions 8 to 12 only, PART, Charge Rule, geno2pheno coreceptor, Position-Specific Scoring Matrix X4R5 [PSSMX4R5], and PSSMsinsi). A total of 150 samples were tested, with 115 belonging to patients infected with non-B subtypes and 35 drawn from subtype B-infected patients, which were taken as controls. When non-B subtypes were tested, the concordances between the results obtained using the phenotypic assay and distinct genotypic tools were as follows: 78.8% for SVM, 77.5% for C4.5, 82.5% for C4.5 with positions 8 to 12 only, 82.5% for PART, 82.5% for Charge Rule, 82.5% for PSSMX4R5, 83.8% for PSSMsinsi, and 71.3% for geno2pheno. When clade B viruses were tested, the best concordances were seen for PSSMX4R5 (91.4%), PSSMsinsi (88.6%), and geno2pheno (88.6%). The sensitivity for detecting X4 variants was lower for non-B than for B viruses, especially in the case of PSSMsinsi (38.4% versus 100%, respectively), SVMwetcat (46% versus 100%, respectively), and PART (30% versus 90%, respectively). In summary, while inferences of HIV-1 coreceptor usage using genotypic tools seem to be reliable for clade B viruses, their performances are poor for non-B subtypes, in which they particularly fail to detect X4 variants.
The objectives of this study were to assess the performance of genotypic algorithms for predicting CXCR4-using virus, with enhanced sensitivity Trofile HIV coreceptor tropism assay (ES Trofile) as the reference, and to compare the concordance/accuracy of genotypic tests with ES Trofile and with the original Trofile assay. Paired phenotypic and genotypic determinations of HIV-1 coreceptor usage were compared in plasma samples from HIV-1-infected patients. Sequencing of the third hypervariable (V3) loop of the viral gene and phenotypic assays were performed for each sample. Genotypic rules used to predict tropism were Geno2pheno (false-positive rate at 1 to 20%), position-specific scoring matrix X4R5 (PSSMX4R5) and PSSMsinsi (where “sinsi” stands for syncytium inducing and non-syncytium inducing), and the 11/25, 11/24/25, and net charge rules. Two hundred forty-four phenotypic and genotypic samples were tested. Coreceptor usage was obtained from ES Trofile for 145 (59%) samples and from Trofile for 99 (41%) samples. The highest concordance (82.6%) was obtained with PSSMX4R5 when ES Trofile was used as the reference. Geno2pheno at a 20% false-positive rate showed the highest sensitivity (76.7%) for CXCR4-using virus detection with ES Trofile. Samples from naïve subjects and those with CD4 cell counts between 200 and 500 cells/mm3 showed the best predictive performance. Overall, the accuracy of the bioinformatics tools to detect CXCR4-using virus was similar for ES Trofile and Trofile; however, the negative predictive values for genotypic tools with ES Trofile were slightly higher than they were with Trofile. The accuracy of genotypic algorithms for detecting CXCR4-using viruses is high when using ES Trofile as the reference. Results are similar to those obtained with Trofile. The concordance with ES Trofile is better with higher CD4 cell counts and nonexposure to antiretroviral therapy.
HIV-1 cell entry commonly uses, in addition to CD4, one of the chemokine receptors CCR5 or CXCR4 as coreceptor. Knowledge of coreceptor usage is critical for monitoring disease progression as well as for supporting therapy with the novel drug class of coreceptor antagonists. Predictive methods for inferring coreceptor usage based on the third hypervariable (V3) loop region of the viral gene coding for the envelope protein gp120 can provide us with these monitoring facilities while avoiding expensive phenotypic tests. All simple heuristics (such as the 11/25 rule) as well as statistical learning methods proposed to date predict coreceptor usage based on sequence features of the V3 loop exclusively. Here, we show, based on a recently resolved structure of gp120 with an untruncated V3 loop, that using structural information on the V3 loop in combination with sequence features of V3 variants improves prediction of coreceptor usage. In particular, we propose a distance-based descriptor of the spatial arrangement of physicochemical properties that increases discriminative performance. For a fixed specificity of 0.95, a sensitivity of 0.77 was achieved, improving further to 0.80 when combined with a sequence-based representation using amino acid indicators. This compares favorably with the sensitivities of 0.62 for the traditional 11/25 rule and 0.73 for a prediction based on sequence information as input to a support vector machine and constitutes a statistically significant improvement. A detailed analysis and interpretation of structural features important for classification shows the relevance of several specific hydrogen-bond donor sites and aliphatic side chains to coreceptor specificity towards CCR5 or CXCR4. Furthermore, an analysis of side chain orientation of the specificity-determining residues suggests a major role of one side of the V3 loop in the selection of the coreceptor. The proposed method constitutes the first approach to an improved prediction of coreceptor usage based on an original integration of structural bioinformatics methods with statistical learning.
HIV-1 cell entry requires a chemokine coreceptor in addition to the CD4 cell surface receptor. The two most common types of HIV coreceptors are called CCR5 and CXCR4. Whereas CCR5-using viral variants dominate directly after infection and during early stages of the disease, in about 50% of the patients, CXCR4-using variants appear in later stages of the disease, suggesting the coreceptor switch to be a determinant of disease progression. HIV coreceptors received substantial attention as antiviral drug targets, with CCR5 antagonists being currently tested in phase III clinical studies. Treatment with coreceptor antagonists requires continuous monitoring of coreceptor usage. The prominent role of coreceptors in disease progression and their potential as antiviral drug targets provides incentives for methodological improvements in coreceptor prediction and better understanding of the underlying determining factors regarding sequence and structural aspects. Our proposed method is the first approach to predict coreceptor usage based on structural information as opposed to established sequence-based methods. Including structural information improves predictive performance and is a first step towards a deeper understanding of the structural aspects of coreceptor usage.
CCR5 antagonists are a powerful new class of antiretroviral drugs that require a companion assay to evaluate the presence of CXCR4-tropic (non-R5) viruses prior to use in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals. In this study, we have developed, characterized, verified, and prevalidated a novel phenotypic test to determine HIV-1 coreceptor tropism (VERITROP) based on a sensitive cell-to-cell fusion assay. A proprietary vector was constructed containing a near-full-length HIV-1 genome with the yeast uracil biosynthesis (URA3) gene replacing the HIV-1 env coding sequence. Patient-derived HIV-1 PCR products were introduced by homologous recombination using an innovative yeast-based cloning strategy. The env-expressing vectors were then used in a cell-to-cell fusion assay to determine the presence of R5 and/or non-R5 HIV-1 variants within the viral population. Results were compared with (i) the original version of Trofile (Monogram Biosciences, San Francisco, CA), (ii) population sequencing, and (iii) 454 pyrosequencing, with the genotypic data analyzed using several bioinformatics tools, i.e., the 11/24/25 rule, Geno2Pheno (2% to 5.75%, 3.5%, or 10% false-positive rate [FPR]), and webPSSM. VERITROP consistently detected minority non-R5 variants from clinical specimens, with an analytical sensitivity of 0.3%, with viral loads of ≥1,000 copies/ml, and from B and non-B subtypes. In a pilot study, a 73.7% (56/76) concordance was observed with the original Trofile assay, with 19 of the 20 discordant results corresponding to non-R5 variants detected using VERITROP and not by the original Trofile assay. The degree of concordance of VERITROP and Trofile with population and deep sequencing results depended on the algorithm used to determine HIV-1 coreceptor tropism. Overall, VERITROP showed better concordance with deep sequencing/Geno2Pheno at a 0.3% detection threshold (67%), whereas Trofile matched better with population sequencing (79%). However, 454 sequencing using Geno2Pheno at a 10% FPR and 0.3% threshold and VERITROP more accurately predicted the success of a maraviroc-based regimen. In conclusion, VERITROP may promote the development of new HIV coreceptor antagonists and aid in the treatment and management of HIV-infected individuals prior to and/or during treatment with this class of drugs.
In Hong Kong, the CCR5 antagonist has recently been introduced into salvage therapy for multiclass drug-resistant HIV-1-infected patients. Coreceptor usage must be determined prior to the usage of the CCR5 antagonist, which does not inhibit X4-tropic viruses. This study aimed to determine the tropism prevalence for HIV-1 subtypes B and CRF01_AE in Hong Kong. In addition, a modified promoter-PCR phenotypic assay was used to validate the genotypic tropism prediction on CRF01_AE. One hundred and five subtype B and 98 CRF01_AE antiretroviral-naive patients were recruited for this study. The viral env V3 region isolated from the patients was sequenced and analyzed by Geno2pheno (FPR=5.75% or 10%, Clonal or Clinical), position-specific scoring matrix (WebPSSM, x4r5 subtype B matrix), and the combination of 11/25 and net charge rules. Fifteen concordant and 22 discordant tropism genotyped CRF01_AE samples were further phenotyped by either enhanced sensitivity Trofile assay or an optimized promoter-PCR phenotypic assay. The prevalence of Dual/Mixed- or X4-tropic virus in antiretroviral-naive subtype CRF01_AE was 39.1%, which was significantly higher than subtype B (p<0.05), regardless of the choices of genotypic algorithms. Our phenotypic data proposed that a better genotypic tropism prediction for HIV-1 CRF01_AE would be using both Geno2pheno (FPR=10%, Clonal) and WebPSSM (x4r5 subtype B matrix) algorithms in combination. The sensitivity and specificity for this combination were 88.9% and 89.3%, respectively. The comparatively high prevalence of Dual/Mixed- or X4-tropic virus in CRF01_AE demonstrated the need for special attention to future treatment strategies.
At the early stage of infection, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 predominantly uses the CCR5 coreceptor for host cell entry. The subsequent emergence of HIV variants that use the CXCR4 coreceptor in roughly half of all infections is associated with an accelerated decline of CD4+ T-cells and rate of progression to AIDS. The presence of a ‘fitness valley’ separating CCR5- and CXCR4-using genotypes is postulated to be a biological determinant of whether the HIV coreceptor switch occurs. Using phylogenetic methods to reconstruct the evolutionary dynamics of HIV within hosts enables us to discriminate between competing models of this process. We have developed a phylogenetic pipeline for the molecular clock analysis, ancestral reconstruction, and visualization of deep sequence data. These data were generated by next-generation sequencing of HIV RNA extracted from longitudinal serum samples (median 7 time points) from 8 untreated subjects with chronic HIV infections (Amsterdam Cohort Studies on HIV-1 infection and AIDS). We used the known dates of sampling to directly estimate rates of evolution and to map ancestral mutations to a reconstructed timeline in units of days. HIV coreceptor usage was predicted from reconstructed ancestral sequences using the geno2pheno algorithm. We determined that the first mutations contributing to CXCR4 use emerged about 16 (per subject range 4 to 30) months before the earliest predicted CXCR4-using ancestor, which preceded the first positive cell-based assay of CXCR4 usage by 10 (range 5 to 25) months. CXCR4 usage arose in multiple lineages within 5 of 8 subjects, and ancestral lineages following alternate mutational pathways before going extinct were common. We observed highly patient-specific distributions and time-scales of mutation accumulation, implying that the role of a fitness valley is contingent on the genotype of the transmitted variant.
At the start of infection, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) generally requires a specific protein receptor (CCR5) on the cell surface to bind and enter the cell. In roughly half of all HIV infections, the virus population eventually switches to using a different receptor (CXCR4). This ‘HIV coreceptor switch’ is associated with an accelerated rate of progression to AIDS. Although it is not known why this switch occurs in some infections and not others, it is thought to be shaped by constraints on how HIV can evolve from one mode to another. In this study, we test this hypothesis by reconstructing the evolutionary histories of HIV within 8 patients known to have undergone an HIV coreceptor switch. Each history is recreated from samples of HIV genetic sequences that were derived from repeated blood samples by next-generation sequencing, an emerging technology that is rapidly becoming an essential tool in the study of rapidly-evolving populations such as viruses or cancerous cells. Because we have samples from different points in time, we can use models of evolution to extrapolate back in time to the ancestors of each infection. Our analysis reveals patient-specific dynamics in HIV evolution that sheds new light on the determinants of the coreceptor switch.
In human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtype B infections, the emergence of viruses able to use CXCR4 as a coreceptor is well documented and associated with accelerated CD4 decline and disease progression. However, in HIV-1 subtype C infections, responsible for more than 50% of global infections, CXCR4 usage is less common, even in individuals with advanced disease. A reliable phenotype prediction method based on genetic sequence analysis could provide a rapid and less expensive approach to identify possible CXCR4 variants and thus increase our understanding of subtype C coreceptor usage. For subtype B V3 loop sequences, genotypic predictors have been developed based on position-specific scoring matrices (PSSM). In this study, we apply this methodology to a training set of 279 subtype C sequences of known phenotypes (228 non-syncytium-inducing [NSI] CCR5+ and 51 SI CXCR4+ sequences) to derive a C-PSSM predictor. Specificity and sensitivity distributions were estimated by combining data set bootstrapping with leave-one-out cross-validation, with random sampling of single sequences from individuals on each bootstrap iteration. The C-PSSM had an estimated specificity of 94% (confidence interval [CI], 92% to 96%) and a sensitivity of 75% (CI, 68% to 82%), which is significantly more sensitive than predictions based on other methods, including a commonly used method based on the presence of positively charged residues (sensitivity, 47.8%). A specificity of 83% and a sensitivity of 83% were achieved with a validation set of 24 SI and 47 NSI unique subtype C sequences. The C-PSSM performs as well on subtype C V3 loops as existing subtype B-specific methods do on subtype B V3 loops. We present bioinformatic evidence that particular sites may influence coreceptor usage differently, depending on the subtype.
HIV-1 subtype CRF01-AE predominates in south Asia and has spread throughout the world. The virus tropism must be determined before using CCR5 antagonists. Genotypic methods could be used, but the prediction algorithms may be inaccurate for non-B subtypes like CRF01-AE and the correlation with the phenotypic approach has not been assessed. We analyzed 61 CRF01-AE V3 clonal sequences of known phenotype from the GenBank database. The sensitivity of the Geno2pheno10 genotypic algorithm was 91%, but its specificity was poor (54%). In contrast, the combined 11/25 and net charge rule was highly specific (98%) but rather insensitive (64%). We thus identified subtype CRF01-AE determinants in the V3 region that are associated with CXCR4 use and developed a new simple rule for optimizing the genotypic prediction of CRF01-AE tropism. The concordance between the predicted CRF01-AE genotype and the phenotype was 95% for the clonal data set. We then validated this algorithm by analyzing the data from 44 patients infected with subtype CRF01-AE, whose tropism was determined using a recombinant phenotypic entry assay and V3-loop bulk sequencing. The CRF01-AE genotypic tool was 70% sensitive and 96% specific for predicting CXCR4 use, and the concordance between genotype and phenotype was 84%, approaching the concordance obtained for predicting the tropism of HIV-1 subtype B. Genotypic predictions that use a subtype CRF01-AE-specific algorithm appear to be preferable for characterizing coreceptor usage both in pathophysiological studies and for ensuring the appropriate use of CCR5 antagonists.
The relationship of HIV tropism with disease progression and the recent development of CCR5-blocking drugs underscore the importance of monitoring virus coreceptor usage. As an alternative to costly phenotypic assays, computational methods aim at predicting virus tropism based on the sequence and structure of the V3 loop of the virus gp120 protein. Here we present a numerical descriptor of the V3 loop encoding its physicochemical and structural properties. The descriptor allows for structure-based prediction of HIV tropism and identification of properties of the V3 loop that are crucial for coreceptor usage. Use of the proposed descriptor for prediction results in a statistically significant improvement over the prediction based solely on V3 sequence with 3 percentage points improvement in AUC and 7 percentage points in sensitivity at the specificity of the 11/25 rule (95%). We additionally assessed the predictive power of the new method on clinically derived ‘bulk’ sequence data and obtained a statistically significant improvement in AUC of 3 percentage points over sequence-based prediction. Furthermore, we demonstrated the capacity of our method to predict therapy outcome by applying it to 53 samples from patients undergoing Maraviroc therapy. The analysis of structural features of the loop informative of tropism indicates the importance of two loop regions and their physicochemical properties. The regions are located on opposite strands of the loop stem and the respective features are predominantly charge-, hydrophobicity- and structure-related. These regions are in close proximity in the bound conformation of the loop potentially forming a site determinant for the coreceptor binding. The method is available via server under http://structure.bioinf.mpi-inf.mpg.de/.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) requires one of the chemokine coreceptors CCR5 or CXCR4 for entry into the host cell. The capacity of the virus to use one or both of these coreceptors is termed tropism. Monitoring HIV tropism is of high importance due to the relationship of the emergence of CXCR4-tropic virus with the progression of immunodeficiency and for patient treatment with the recently developed CCR5 antagonists. Computational methods for predicting HIV tropism are based on sequence and on structure of the third variable region (V3 loop) of the viral gp120 protein — the major determinant of the HIV tropism. Limitations of the existing methods include the limited insights they provide into the biochemical determinants of coreceptor usage, high computational load of the structure-based methods and low prediction accuracy on clinically derived patient samples. Here we propose a numerical descriptor of the V3 loop encoding the physicochemical and structural properties of the loop. The new descriptor allows for server-based prediction of viral tropism with accuracy comparable to that of established sequence-based methods both on clonal and clinically derived patient data as well as for the interpretation of the properties of the loop relevant for tropism. The server is available under http://structure.bioinf.mpi-inf.mpg.de/.
The V3 loop of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is critical for coreceptor binding and is the main determinant of which of the cellular coreceptors, CCR5 or CXCR4, the virus uses for cell entry. The aim of this study is to provide a large-scale data driven analysis of HIV-1 coreceptor usage with respect to the V3 loop evolution and to characterize CCR5- and CXCR4-tropic viral phenotypes previously studied in small- and medium-scale settings. We use different sequence similarity measures, phylogenetic and clustering methods in order to analyze the distribution in sequence space of roughly 1000 V3 loop sequences and their tropism phenotypes. This analysis affords a means of characterizing those sequences that are misclassified by several sequence-based coreceptor prediction methods, as well as predicting the coreceptor using the location of the sequence in sequence space and of relating this location to the CD4+ T-cell count of the patient. We support previous findings that the usage of CCR5 is correlated with relatively high sequence conservation whereas CXCR4-tropic viruses spread over larger regions in sequence space. The incorrectly predicted sequences are mostly located in regions in which their phenotype represents the minority or in close vicinity of regions dominated by the opposite phenotype. Nevertheless, the location of the sequence in sequence space can be used to improve the accuracy of the prediction of the coreceptor usage. Sequences from patients with high CD4+ T-cell counts are relatively highly conserved as compared to those of immunosuppressed patients. Our study thus supports hypotheses of an association of immune system depletion with an increase in V3 loop sequence variability and with the escape of the viral sequence to distant parts of the sequence space.
Dual/mixed-tropic HIV-1 strains are predominant in a significant proportion of patients, though little information is available regarding their replication-capacity and susceptibility against CCR5-antagonists in-vitro. The aim of the study was to analyze the replication-capacity and susceptibility to maraviroc of HIV-1 clinical isolates with different tropism characteristics in primary monocyte-derived-macrophages (MDM), peripheral-blood-mononuclear-cells (PBMC), and CD4+T-lymphocytes.
Twenty-three HIV-1 isolates were phenotipically and genotipically characterized as R5, X4 or dual (discriminated as R5+/X4, R5/X4, R5/X4+). Phenotypic-tropism was evaluated by multiple-cycles-assay on U87MG-CD4+-CCR5+−/CXCR4+-expressing cells. Genotypic-tropism prediction was obtained using Geno2Pheno-algorithm (false-positive-rate [FPR] = 10%). Replication-capacity and susceptibility to maraviroc were investigated in human-primary MDM, PBMC and CD4+T-cells. AMD3100 was used as CXCR4-inhibitor. Infectivity of R5/Dual/X4-viruses in presence/absence of maraviroc was assessed also by total HIV-DNA, quantified by real-time polymerase-chain-reaction.
Among 23 HIV-1 clinical isolates, phenotypic-tropism-assay distinguished 4, 17 and 2 viruses with R5-tropic, dual/mixed-, and X4-tropic characteristics, respectively. Overall, viruses defined as R5+/X4-tropic were found with the highest prevalence (10/23, 43.5%). The majority of isolates efficiently replicated in both PBMC and CD4+T-cells, regardless of their tropism, while MDM mainly sustained replication of R5- or R5+/X4-tropic isolates; strong correlation between viral-replication and genotypic-FPR-values was observed in MDM (rho = 0.710;p-value = 1.4e-4). In all primary cells, maraviroc inhibited viral-replication of isolates not only with pure R5- but also with dual/mixed tropism (mainly R5+/X4 and, to a lesser extent R5/X4 and R5/X4+). Finally, no main differences by comparing the total HIV-DNA with the p24-production in presence/absence of maraviroc were found.
Maraviroc is effective in-vitro against viruses with dual-characteristics in both MDM and lymphocytes, despite the potential X4-mediated escape. This suggests that the concept of HIV-entry through one of the two coreceptors “separately” may require revision, and that the use of CCR5-antagonists in patients with dual/mixed-tropic viruses may be a therapeutic-option that deserves further investigations in different clinical settings.
HIV-1 drug resistance monitoring in resource-poor settings is crucial due to limited drug alternatives. Recent reports of the increased prevalence of CXCR4 usage in subtype C infections may have implications for CCR5 antagonists in therapy. We investigated the prevalence of drug resistance mutations and CXCR4 coreceptor utilization of viruses from HIV-1 subtype C-infected children. Fifty-one children with virological failure during highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and 43 HAART-naive children were recruited. Drug resistance genotyping and coreceptor utilization assessment by phenotypic and genotypic methods were performed. At least one significant drug resistance mutation was present in 85.4% of HAART-failing children. Thymidine analogue mutations (TAMs) were detected in 58.5% of HAART-failing children and 39.0% had ≥3 TAMs. CXCR4 (X4) or dual (R5X4)/mixed (R5, X4) (D/M)-tropic viruses were found in 54.3% of HAART-failing and 9.4% of HAART-naive children (p<0.0001); however, the HAART-failing children were significantly older (p<0.0001). In multivariate logistic regression, significant predictors of CXCR4 usage included antiretroviral treatment, older age, and lower percent CD4+ T cell counts. The majority of genotypic prediction tools had low sensitivity (≤65.0%) and high specificity (≥87.5%) for predicting CXCR4 usage. Extensive drug resistance, including the high percentage of TAMs found, may compromise future drug choices for children, highlighting the need for improved treatment monitoring and adherence counseling. Additionally, the increased prevalence of X4/D/M viruses in HAART-failing children suggests limited use of CCR5 antagonists in salvage therapy. Enhanced genotypic prediction tools are needed as current tools are not sensitive enough for predicting CXCR4 usage.
To evaluate the evolution of HIV-1 coreceptor tropism in proviral DNA of patients during maraviroc-based therapy.
Fourteen heavily high active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)-treated patients with a CCR5 Trofile profile were monitored over a 24 month period from the start of maraviroc therapy. Whole-blood samples were obtained at different timepoints, and coreceptor tropism was determined for proviral DNA from the V3-loop region sequence using the Geno2Pheno algorithm [false positive rate (FPR): 20%].
At the start of maraviroc treatment, 13/14 patients were viraemic (median: 4.33 log copies/mL). Concordance in R5 tropism (R5/R5) was observed between circulating HIV-RNA (Trofile) and HIV-DNA provirus in 10/14 patients (median FPR = 54.0%), while 4 patients showed a CXCR4-tropic R5/X4 variant in their provirus (FPR: 5.8%, 5.7%, 16.6% and 1.1%, respectively). All R5/R5 patients showed a stable HIV-1 DNA coreceptor usage. Two out of four R5/X4 patients showed a tropism shift in their archived provirus and, after 6 months a prevalence of R5-tropic virus was detected in DNA. The other two R5/X4 patients harboured the 11/25 genotype, and maintained X4 tropism in provirus during the study. Virological response did not reveal differences in RNA decay and CD4+ cell recovery in patients with discordant tropism.
A relatively good correlation between RNA and DNA tropism was observed at baseline. Proviral DNA tropism remained stable over 24 months of maraviroc-based therapy, indicating that determination of proviral DNA V3 sequence could be used in tropism prediction in clinical practice. The data also confirm the importance of the 11/25 rule in predicting viral tropism.
HIV-1 coreceptor; CCR5 inhibitors; V3 genotype; highly active antiretroviral therapy
The viral determinants that underlie human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) neurotropism are unknown, due in part to limited studies on viruses isolated from brain. Previous studies suggest that brain-derived viruses are macrophage tropic (M-tropic) and principally use CCR5 for virus entry. To better understand HIV-1 neurotropism, we isolated primary viruses from autopsy brain, cerebral spinal fluid, blood, spleen, and lymph node samples from AIDS patients with dementia and HIV-1 encephalitis. Isolates were characterized to determine coreceptor usage and replication capacity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM), and microglia. Env V1/V2 and V3 heteroduplex tracking assay and sequence analyses were performed to characterize distinct variants in viral quasispecies. Viruses isolated from brain, which consisted of variants that were distinct from those in lymphoid tissues, used CCR5 (R5), CXCR4 (X4), or both coreceptors (R5X4). Minor usage of CCR2b, CCR3, CCR8, and Apj was also observed. Primary brain and lymphoid isolates that replicated to high levels in MDM showed a similar capacity to replicate in microglia. Six of 11 R5 isolates that replicated efficiently in PBMC could not replicate in MDM or microglia due to a block in virus entry. CD4 overexpression in microglia transduced with retroviral vectors had no effect on the restricted replication of these virus strains. Furthermore, infection of transfected cells expressing different amounts of CD4 or CCR5 with M-tropic and non-M-tropic R5 isolates revealed a similar dependence on CD4 and CCR5 levels for entry, suggesting that the entry block was not due to low levels of either receptor. Studies using TAK-779 and AMD3100 showed that two highly M-tropic isolates entered microglia primarily via CXCR4. These results suggest that HIV-1 tropism for macrophages and microglia is restricted at the entry level by a mechanism independent of coreceptor specificity. These findings provide evidence that M-tropism rather than CCR5 usage predicts HIV-1 neurotropism.
The ability to determine coreceptor usage of patient-derived human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) strains is clinically important, particularly for the administration of the CCR5 antagonist maraviroc. The envelope glycoprotein (Env) determinants of coreceptor specificity lie primarily within the gp120 V3 loop region, although other Env determinants have been shown to influence gp120-coreceptor interactions. Here, we determined whether conserved amino acid alterations outside the V3 loop that contribute to coreceptor usage exist, and whether these alterations improve the performance of V3 sequence-based coreceptor usage prediction algorithms. We demonstrate a significant covariant association between charged amino acids at position 322 in V3 and position 440 in the C4 Env region that contributes to the specificity of HIV-1 subtype B strains for CCR5 or CXCR4. Specifically, positively charged Lys/Arg at position 322 and negatively charged Asp/Glu at position 440 occurred more frequently in CXCR4-using viruses, whereas negatively charged Asp/Glu at position 322 and positively charged Arg at position 440 occurred more frequently in R5 strains. In the context of CD4-bound gp120, structural models suggest that covariation of amino acids at Env positions 322 and 440 has the potential to alter electrostatic interactions that are formed between gp120 and charged amino acids in the CCR5 N-terminus. We further demonstrate that inclusion of a “440 rule” can improve the sensitivity of several V3 sequence-based genotypic algorithms for predicting coreceptor usage of subtype B HIV-1 strains, without compromising specificity, and significantly improves the AUROC of the geno2pheno algorithm when set to its recommended false positive rate of 5.75%. Together, our results provide further mechanistic insights into the intra-molecular interactions within Env that contribute to coreceptor specificity of subtype B HIV-1 strains, and demonstrate that incorporation of Env determinants outside V3 can improve the reliability of coreceptor usage prediction algorithms.
HIV-1 infects the host cell by interacting with the primary receptor CD4 and a coreceptor CCR5 or CXCR4. Maraviroc, a CCR5 antagonist binds to CCR5 receptor. Thus, it is important to identify the coreceptor used by the HIV strains dominating in the patient. In past, a number of experimental assays and in-silico techniques have been developed for predicting the coreceptor tropism. The prediction accuracy of these methods is excellent when predicting CCR5(R5) tropic sequences but is relatively poor for CXCR4(X4) tropic sequences. Therefore, any new method for accurate determination of coreceptor usage would be of paramount importance to the successful management of HIV-infected individuals.
The dataset used in this study comprised 1799 R5-tropic and 598 X4-tropic third variable (V3) sequences of HIV-1. We compared the amino acid composition of both types of V3 sequences and observed that certain types of residues, e.g., Asparagine and Isoleucine, were preferred in R5-tropic sequences whereas residues like Lysine, Arginine, and Tryptophan were preferred in X4-tropic sequences. Initially, Support Vector Machine-based models were developed using amino acid composition, dipeptide composition, and split amino acid composition, which achieved accuracy up to 90%. We used BLAST to discriminate R5- and X4-tropic sequences and correctly predicted 93.16% of R5- and 75.75% of X4-tropic sequences. In order to improve the prediction accuracy, a Hybrid model was developed that achieved 91.66% sensitivity, 81.77% specificity, 89.19% accuracy and 0.72 Matthews Correlation Coefficient. The performance of our models was also evaluated on an independent dataset (256 R5- and 81 X4-tropic sequences) and achieved maximum accuracy of 84.87% with Matthews Correlation Coefficient 0.63.
This study describes a highly efficient method for predicting HIV-1 coreceptor usage from V3 sequences. In order to provide a service to the scientific community, a webserver HIVcoPred was developed (http://www.imtech.res.in/raghava/hivcopred/) for predicting the coreceptor usage.
HIV-1 coreceptor tropism assays are required to rule out the presence of CXCR4-tropic (non-R5) viruses prior treatment with CCR5 antagonists. Phenotypic (e.g., Trofile™, Monogram Biosciences) and genotypic (e.g., population sequencing linked to bioinformatic algorithms) assays are the most widely used. Although several next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms are available, to date all published deep sequencing HIV-1 tropism studies have used the 454™ Life Sciences/Roche platform. In this study, HIV-1 co-receptor usage was predicted for twelve patients scheduled to start a maraviroc-based antiretroviral regimen. The V3 region of the HIV-1 env gene was sequenced using four NGS platforms: 454™, PacBio® RS (Pacific Biosciences), Illumina®, and Ion Torrent™ (Life Technologies). Cross-platform variation was evaluated, including number of reads, read length and error rates. HIV-1 tropism was inferred using Geno2Pheno, Web PSSM, and the 11/24/25 rule and compared with Trofile™ and virologic response to antiretroviral therapy. Error rates related to insertions/deletions (indels) and nucleotide substitutions introduced by the four NGS platforms were low compared to the actual HIV-1 sequence variation. Each platform detected all major virus variants within the HIV-1 population with similar frequencies. Identification of non-R5 viruses was comparable among the four platforms, with minor differences attributable to the algorithms used to infer HIV-1 tropism. All NGS platforms showed similar concordance with virologic response to the maraviroc-based regimen (75% to 80% range depending on the algorithm used), compared to Trofile (80%) and population sequencing (70%). In conclusion, all four NGS platforms were able to detect minority non-R5 variants at comparable levels suggesting that any NGS-based method can be used to predict HIV-1 coreceptor usage.