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1.  Absence of reproducibly detectable low-level HIV viremia in highly exposed seronegative men and women. 
AIDS (London, England)  2011;25(5):619-623.
Transient HIV infections have been invoked to account for the cellular immune responses detected in highly virus-exposed individuals who have remained HIV seronegative. We tested for very low levels of HIV RNA in 524 seronegative plasma samples from 311 highly exposed women and men from 3 longitudinal HIV cohorts.
2073 transcription mediated amplification (TMA) HIV RNA tests were performed for an average of 3.95 TMA assays per plasma sample. Quadruplicate TMA assays, analyzing a total of 2 ml of plasma, provided an estimated sensitivity of 3.5 HIV RNA copies/ml.
Four samples from subjects who did not sero-convert within the following six months were positive for HIV RNA. For one sample, human polymorphism DNA analysis indicated a sample mix up. Borderline HIV RNA detection signals were detected for the other three positive samples and further replicate TMA testing yielded no positive results. Nested PCR assays (n=254) for HIV proviral DNA on PBMC from these 3 subjects were negative.
Transient viremia was not reproducibly detected in highly HIV exposed seronegative men and women. If transient infections do occur, plasma HIV RNA levels may remain below the detection limits of the sensitive assay used here, be of very short duration, or viral replication may be restricted to mucosal surfaces or their draining lymphoid tissues.
PMCID: PMC3458706  PMID: 21297421
2.  High levels of subgenomic HCV plasma RNA in immunosilent infections 
Virology  2007;365(2):446-456.
A genetic analysis of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in rare blood donors who remained HCV seronegative despite long-term high-level viremia revealed the chronic presence of HCV genomes with large in frame deletions in their structural genes. Full-length HCV genomes were only detected as minority variants. In one immunodeficiency virus (HIV) co-infected donor the truncated HCV genome transiently decreased in frequency concomitant with delayed seroconversion and re-emerged following partial seroreversion. The long-term production of heavily truncated HCV genomes in vivo suggests that these viruses retained the necessary elements for RNA replication while the deleted structural functions necessary for their spread in vivo was provided in trans by wild type helper virus in co-infected cells. The absence of immunological pressure and a high viral load may therefore promote the emergence of truncated HCV subgenomic replicons in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2001282  PMID: 17493654
HCV; subgenomic; replicon; defective; serosilent
3.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Mutations during the First Month of Infection Are Preferentially Found in Known Cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte Epitopes 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(17):11523-11528.
The full protein coding region of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) genomes were sequenced using plasma collected from nine African-Americans prior to seroconversion and 7 to 28 days later. HIV mutations emerged in seven of these subjects at a genomewide rate of 2% per year. The location of nonsynonymous (NS) HIV mutations within these subjects was compared to their potential HLA-A and B types restricted CTL epitopes reported in the Los Alamos National Laboratory HIV immunology database. A statistically significant (P < 0.005) number of the early NS mutations (13.5%) were found within previously reported CTL epitopes. A virus sequencing and reported CTL epitopes database analysis therefore support a model where a significant proportion of very early nonsynonymous HIV mutations are selected by CTL.
PMCID: PMC1193571  PMID: 16103205
4.  Highly Uneven Distribution of Tenofovir-Selected Simian Immunodeficiency Virus in Different Anatomical Sites of Rhesus Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(5):2434-2444.
Antiviral tenofovir monotherapy was used to determine whether drug-selected simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) variants replaced their wild-type progenitors at the same rate in different tissues of six rhesus macaques. The relative frequencies of drug-resistant and wild-type genotypes were measured longitudinally in blood and in 23 lymphoid and nonlymphoid tissues collected at necropsy. The mutant/wild-type genotype ratio was measured using a heteroduplex tracking assay targeting tenofovir-selected SIV reverse transcriptase codons. After the initiation of tenofovir treatment in animals with high steady-state viremia levels, resistant genotypes emerged in the plasma within 1 to 8 weeks and in five of six cases reached frequencies of nearly 100% within 4 to 25 weeks. The appearance of tenofovir-resistant genotypes in peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) DNA was generally delayed by 1 to 2 weeks and in one case was completely absent. Necropsies performed 8 to 55 weeks after the initiation of tenofovir treatment showed the frequency of resistant SIV genotypes to be generally higher in tissue RNA than DNA fractions. The frequency of drug-resistant genotypes varied widely between anatomical sites, including different lymph nodes of the same animal. Except for the epidydimis, the tissues with the lowest rates of proviral replacement by tenofovir-resistant genotypes differed between animals. The highly uneven distribution of tenofovir-resistant genotypes in different tissues seen shortly after the initiation of tenofovir monotherapy may reflect differences in local antiviral drug selection pressures and/or the stochastic effect of small effective populations of drug-resistant variants randomly seeding different anatomical sites early in therapy.
PMCID: PMC369237  PMID: 14963139

Results 1-4 (4)