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1.  Photographed Rapid HIV Test Results Pilot Novel Quality Assessment and Training Schemes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e18294.
HIV rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are now used widely in non-laboratory settings by non-laboratory-trained operators. Quality assurance programmes are essential in ensuring the quality of HIV RDT outcomes. However, there is no cost-effective means of supplying the many operators of RDTs with suitable quality assurance schemes. Therefore, it was examined whether photograph-based RDT results could be used and correctly interpreted in the non-laboratory setting. Further it was investigated if a single training session improved the interpretation skills of RDT operators. The photographs were interpreted, a 10-minute tutorial given and then a second interpretation session was held. It was established that the results could be read with accuracy. The participants (n = 75) with a range of skills interpreted results (>80% concordance with reference results) from a panel of 10 samples (three negative and seven positive) using four RDTs. Differences in accuracy of interpretation before and after the tutorial were marked in some cases. Training was more effective for improving the accurate interpretation of more complex results, e.g. results with faint test lines or for multiple test lines, and especially for improving interpretation skills of inexperienced participants. It was demonstrated that interpretation of RDTs was improved using photographed results allied to a 10-minute training session. It is anticipated that this method could be used for training but also for quality assessment of RDT operators without access to conventional quality assurance or training schemes requiring wet samples.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018294
PMCID: PMC3069085  PMID: 21483842
2.  High Viral Fitness during Acute HIV-1 Infection 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12631.
Several clinical studies have shown that, relative to disease progression, HIV-1 isolates that are less fit are also less pathogenic. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between viral fitness and control of viral load (VL) in acute and early HIV-1 infection. Samples were obtained from subjects participating in two clinical studies. In the PULSE study, antiretroviral therapy (ART) was initiated before, or no later than six months following seroconversion. Subjects then underwent multiple structured treatment interruptions (STIs). The PHAEDRA study enrolled and monitored a cohort of individuals with documented evidence of primary infection. The subset chosen were individuals identified no later than 12 months following seroconversion to HIV-1, who were not receiving ART. The relative fitness of primary isolates obtained from study participants was investigated ex vivo. Viral DNA production was quantified using a novel real time PCR assay. Following intermittent ART, the fitness of isolates obtained from 5 of 6 PULSE subjects decreased over time. In contrast, in the absence of ART the fitness of paired isolates obtained from 7 of 9 PHAEDRA subjects increased over time. However, viral fitness did not correlate with plasma VL. Most unexpected was the high relative fitness of isolates obtained at Baseline from PULSE subjects, before initiating ART. It is widely thought that the fitness of strains present during the acute phase is low relative to strains present during chronic HIV-1 infection, due to the bottleneck imposed upon transmission. The results of this study provide evidence that the relative fitness of strains present during acute HIV-1 infection may be higher than previously thought. Furthermore, that viral fitness may represent an important clinical parameter to be considered when deciding whether to initiate ART during early HIV-1 infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012631
PMCID: PMC2936565  PMID: 20844589
3.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Elite Neutralizers: Individuals with Broad and Potent Neutralizing Activity Identified by Using a High-Throughput Neutralization Assay together with an Analytical Selection Algorithm▿ † 
Journal of Virology  2009;83(14):7337-7348.
The development of a rapid and efficient system to identify human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals with broad and potent HIV-1-specific neutralizing antibody responses is an important step toward the discovery of critical neutralization targets for rational AIDS vaccine design. In this study, samples from HIV-1-infected volunteers from diverse epidemiological regions were screened for neutralization responses using pseudovirus panels composed of clades A, B, C, and D and circulating recombinant forms (CRFs). Initially, 463 serum and plasma samples from Australia, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and Zambia were screened to explore neutralization patterns and selection ranking algorithms. Samples were identified that neutralized representative isolates from at least four clade/CRF groups with titers above prespecified thresholds and ranked based on a weighted average of their log-transformed neutralization titers. Linear regression methods selected a five-pseudovirus subset, representing clades A, B, and C and one CRF01_AE, that could identify top-ranking samples with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) neutralization titers of ≥100 to multiple isolates within at least four clade groups. This reduced panel was then used to screen 1,234 new samples from the Ivory Coast, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States, and 1% were identified as elite neutralizers. Elite activity is defined as the ability to neutralize, on average, more than one pseudovirus at an IC50 titer of 300 within a clade group and across at least four clade groups. These elite neutralizers provide promising starting material for the isolation of broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies to assist in HIV-1 vaccine design.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00110-09
PMCID: PMC2704778  PMID: 19439467
4.  Mechanisms of HIV non-progression; robust and sustained CD4+ T-cell proliferative responses to p24 antigen correlate with control of viraemia and lack of disease progression after long-term transfusion-acquired HIV-1 infection 
Retrovirology  2008;5:112.
Background
Elite non-progressors (plasma viral load <50 copies/ml while antiretroviral naive) constitute a tiny fraction of HIV-infected individuals. After 12 years follow-up of a cohort of 13 long-term non-progressors (LTNP) identified from 135 individuals with transfusion-acquired HIV infection, 5 remained LTNP after 23 to 26 years infection, but only 3 retained elite LTNP status. We examined the mechanisms that differentiated delayed progressors from LTNP in this cohort.
Results
A survival advantage was conferred on 12 of 13 subjects, who had at least one host genetic factor (HLA, chemokine receptor or TLR polymorphisms) or viral attenuating factor (defective nef) associated with slow progression. However, antiviral immune responses differentiated the course of disease into and beyond the second decade of infection. A stable p24-specific proliferative response was associated with control of viraemia and retention of non-progressor status, but this p24 response was absent or declined in viraemic subjects. Strong Gag-dominant cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses were identified in most LTNP, or Pol dominant-CTL in those with nef-defective HIV infection. CTL were associated with control of viraemia when combined with p24 proliferative responses. However, CTL did not prevent late disease progression. Individuals with sustained viral suppression had CTL recognising numerous Gag epitopes, while strong but restricted responses to one or two immunodominant epitopes was effective for some time, but failed to contain viraemia over the course of this study. Viral escape mutants at a HLA B27-restricted Gag-p24 epitope were detected in only 1 of 3 individuals, whereas declining or negative p24 proliferative responses occurred in all 3 concurrent with an increase in viraemia.
Conclusion
Detectable viraemia at study entry was predictive of loss of LTNP status and/or disease progression in 6 of 8, and differentiated slow progressors from elite LTNP who retained potent virological control. Sustained immunological suppression of viraemia was independently associated with preserved p24 proliferative responses, regardless of the strength and breadth of the CTL response. A decline in this protective p24 response preceded or correlated with loss of non-progressor status and/or signs of disease progression.
doi:10.1186/1742-4690-5-112
PMCID: PMC2633348  PMID: 19077215
5.  Assessing Proficiency of Interpretation of Rapid Human Immunodeficiency Virus Assays in Nonlaboratory Settings: Ensuring Quality of Testing▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2008;46(5):1692-1697.
Rapid antibody tests for the detection of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) offer an effective means of providing a timely result of HIV serostatus to individuals. The increased use of rapid HIV antibody tests outside the laboratory has highlighted the need for new, cost-effective quality assurance methods to be developed for use in nonlaboratory-based and resource-limited settings. Photographed rapid HIV test results were used in a modified external quality assessment scheme to assess the interpretation proficiency and, therefore, to assess the feasibility of using this method as a basis for a quality assessment program for nonlaboratory-based testing. Participants (n = 148), both experienced and inexperienced in the performance and interpretation of rapid HIV testing, interpreted the photographed results of five rapid HIV assays. These were scored according to the degree of technical discordance. Error scores were grouped according to each participant's technical experience. The accuracy of interpretation for four of the five assays was between 80 and 97%, indicating that the photographed results of samples, including those difficult to read or borderline difficult to read, can be used to assess the proficiency of test operators in interpreting results. Participants had greater difficulty in interpreting samples of weak reactivity; this was consistent across the five assays. Experience played an important role in accurate interpretation, with experienced laboratory participants exhibiting greater proficiency (P < 0.05) in interpreting the results of three of the five rapid HIV assays. It was established that photographed results of rapid HIV assays could be interpreted with accuracy and demonstrated that prior experience resulted in a more accurate interpretation performance.
doi:10.1128/JCM.01761-07
PMCID: PMC2395071  PMID: 18353938
6.  Viral Phenotypes and Antibody Responses in Long-Term Survivors Infected with Attenuated Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Containing Deletions in the nef and Long Terminal Repeat Regions▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(17):9268-9278.
The Sydney Blood Bank Cohort (SBBC) consists of eight blood transfusion recipients infected with nef-attenuated human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) acquired from a single donor. Here, we show that viral phenotypes and antibody responses differ considerably between individual cohort members, despite the single source of infection. Replication of isolated virus varied from barely detectable to similar to that of the wild-type virus, and virus isolated from five SBBC members showed coreceptor usage signatures unique to each individual. Higher viral loads and stronger neutralizing antibody responses were associated with better-replicating viral strains, and detectable viral replication was essential for the development of strong and sustained humoral immune responses. Despite the presence of strong neutralizing antibodies in a number of SBBC members, disease progression was not prevented, and each cohort member studied displayed a unique outcome of infection with nef-attenuated HIV-1.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00650-07
PMCID: PMC1951448  PMID: 17567690
7.  Pathogenicity and immunogenicity of attenuated, nef-deleted HIV-1 strains in vivo 
Retrovirology  2007;4:66.
In efforts to develop an effective vaccine, sterilizing immunity to primate lentiviruses has only been achieved by the use of live attenuated viruses carrying major deletions in nef and other accessory genes. Although live attenuated HIV vaccines are unlikely to be developed due to a myriad of safety concerns, opportunities exist to better understand the correlates of immune protection against HIV infection by studying rare cohorts of long-term survivors infected with attenuated, nef-deleted HIV strains such as the Sydney blood bank cohort (SBBC). Here, we review studies of viral evolution, pathogenicity, and immune responses to HIV infection in SBBC members. The studies show that potent, broadly neutralizing anti-HIV antibodies and robust CD8+ T-cell responses to HIV infection were not necessary for long-term control of HIV infection in a subset of SBBC members, and were not sufficient to prevent HIV sequence evolution, augmentation of pathogenicity and eventual progression of HIV infection in another subset. However, a persistent T-helper proliferative response to HIV p24 antigen was associated with long-term control of infection. Together, these results underscore the importance of the host in the eventual outcome of infection. Thus, whilst generating an effective antibody and CD8+ T-cell response are an essential component of vaccines aimed at preventing primary HIV infection, T-helper responses may be important in the generation of an effective therapeutic vaccine aimed at blunting chronic HIV infection.
doi:10.1186/1742-4690-4-66
PMCID: PMC2075523  PMID: 17888184
8.  Phenotype and envelope gene diversity of nef-deleted HIV-1 isolated from long-term survivors infected from a single source 
Virology Journal  2007;4:75.
Background
The Sydney blood bank cohort (SBBC) of long-term survivors consists of multiple individuals infected with attenuated, nef-deleted variants of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) acquired from a single source. Long-term prospective studies have demonstrated that the SBBC now comprises slow progressors (SP) as well as long-term nonprogressors (LTNP). Convergent evolution of nef sequences in SBBC SP and LTNP indicates the in vivo pathogenicity of HIV-1 in SBBC members is dictated by factors other than nef. To better understand mechanisms underlying the pathogenicity of nef-deleted HIV-1, we examined the phenotype and env sequence diversity of sequentially isolated viruses (n = 2) from 3 SBBC members.
Results
The viruses characterized here were isolated from two SP spanning a three or six year period during progressive HIV-1 infection (subjects D36 and C98, respectively) and from a LTNP spanning a two year period during asymptomatic, nonprogressive infection (subject C18). Both isolates from D36 were R5X4 phenotype and, compared to control HIV-1 strains, replicated to low levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). In contrast, both isolates from C98 and C18 were CCR5-restricted. Both viruses isolated from C98 replicated to barely detectable levels in PBMC, whereas both viruses isolated from C18 replicated to low levels, similar to those isolated from D36. Analysis of env by V1V2 and V3 heteroduplex tracking assay, V1V2 length polymorphisms, sequencing and phylogenetic analysis showed distinct intra- and inter-patient env evolution.
Conclusion
Independent evolution of env despite convergent evolution of nef may contribute to the in vivo pathogenicity of nef-deleted HIV-1 in SBBC members, which may not necessarily be associated with changes in replication capacity or viral coreceptor specificity.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-4-75
PMCID: PMC1939844  PMID: 17634131
9.  Macrophage Tropism and Cytopathicity of HIV-1 Variants Isolated Sequentially from a Long-Term Survivor Infected with nef-Deleted Virus 
Long-term survival of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection has been noted in rare cohorts of individuals infected with nef-deleted virus. Enhanced macrophage tropism and cytopathicity contribute to pathogenicity of wild type HIV-1. To better understand the pathogenesis of nef-deleted HIV-1, we analyzed the replication capacity and macrophage cytopathicity of nef-deleted HIV-1 isolated sequentially from a long-term survivor during progression to AIDS (n=6 isolates). Compared with controls, all nef-deleted viruses replicated to low levels in peripheral blood mononu-clear cells and monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM). One nef-deleted virus that was isolated on the development of AIDS caused high levels of syncytia in MDM similar to control viruses, but five viruses isolated from earlier times prior to AIDS onset caused only minimal cytopathicity. Together, these results suggest that enhanced cytopathicity of nef-deleted HIV-1 for MDM can occur independently of replication capacity, and may contribute to the pathogenesis of nef-deleted HIV-1 infection.
doi:10.2174/1874285800701010001
PMCID: PMC2589664  PMID: 19088897
10.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Nef Binds to Tumor Suppressor p53 and Protects Cells against p53-Mediated Apoptosis 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(6):2692-2702.
The nef gene product of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is important for the induction of AIDS, and key to its function is its ability to manipulate T-cell function by targeting cellular signal transduction proteins. We reported that Nef coprecipitates a multiprotein complex from cells which contains tumor suppressor protein p53. We now show that Nef interacts directly with p53. Binding assays showed that an N-terminal, 57-residue fragment of Nef (Nef 1-57) contains the p53-binding domain. Nef also interacted with p53 during HIV-1 infection in vitro. As p53 plays a critical role in the regulation of apoptosis, we hypothesized that Nef may alter this process. Nef inhibited UV light-induced, p53-dependent apoptosis in MOLT-4 cells, with Nef 1-57 being as effective as its full-length counterpart. The inhibition by Nef of p53 apoptotic function is most likely due its observed ability to decrease p53 protein half-life and, consequently, p53 DNA binding activity and transcriptional activation. These data show that HIV-1 Nef may augment HIV replication by prolonging the viability of infected cells by blocking p53-mediated apoptosis.
doi:10.1128/JVI.76.6.2692-2702.2002
PMCID: PMC135999  PMID: 11861836
11.  Simian Immunodeficiency Virus and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Nef Proteins Show Distinct Patterns and Mechanisms of Src Kinase Activation 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(7):6152-6158.
The nef gene from human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV and SIV) regulates cell function and viral replication, possibly through binding of the nef product to cellular proteins, including Src family tyrosine kinases. We show here that the Nef protein encoded by SIVmac239 interacts with and also activates the human Src kinases Lck and Hck. This is in direct contrast to the inhibitory effect of HIV type 1 (HIV-1) Nef on Lck catalytic activity. Unexpectedly, however, the interaction of SIV Nef with human Lck or Hck is not mediated via its consensus proline motif, which is known to mediate HIV-1 Nef binding to Src homology 3 (SH3) domains, and various experimental analyses failed to show significant interaction of SIV Nef with the SH3 domain of either kinase. Instead, SIV Nef can bind Lck and Hck SH2 domains, and its N-terminal 50 amino acid residues are sufficient for Src kinase binding and activation. Our results provide evidence for multiple mechanisms by which Nef binds to and regulates Src kinases.
PMCID: PMC112684  PMID: 10364375
12.  Novel Endogenous Type D Retroviral Particles Expressed at High Levels in a SCID Mouse Thymic Lymphoma 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(6):4662-4669.
A xenograft model of the human disease Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) was investigated with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice. Transplantation of human LCH biopsy material into SCID mice resulted in the generation of mouse tumors resembling lymphomas. A thymoma cell line (ThyE1M6) was generated from one of these mice and found to display significant levels of Mg2+-dependent reverse transcriptase activity. Electron microscopy revealed particles with type D retroviral morphology budding from ThyE1M6 cells at a high frequency, whereas control cultures were negative. Reverse transcription-PCR of virion RNA with degenerate primers for conserved regions of various mouse, human, and primate retroviruses amplified novel sequences related to primate type D retroviruses, murine intracisternal A particles, Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus, and murine long interspersed nuclear elements but not other retroviral classes. We demonstrate that these sequences represent a novel group of endogenous retroviruses expressed at low levels in mice but expressed at high levels in the ThyE1M6 cell line. Furthermore, we propose that the activation of endogenous retroviral elements may be associated with a high incidence of thymomas in SCID mice.
PMCID: PMC112507  PMID: 10233925
13.  Diminished Production of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 in Astrocytes Results from Inefficient Translation of gag, env, and nef mRNAs despite Efficient Expression of Tat and Rev 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(1):352-361.
Astrocytes infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) produce only minimal quantities of virus. The molecular events that limit acute-phase HIV-1 infection of astrocytes were examined after inducing acute-phase replication by transfection with the pNL4-3 proviral plasmid. The levels of HIV-1 mRNA were similarly high in both astrocytes and HeLa cells, but astrocytes produced approximately 50-fold less supernatant p24 than HeLa cells. We found that diminished HIV-1 production in astrocytes resulted from inefficient translation of gag, env, and nef mRNAs that were efficiently transported to the cytoplasm. Tat- or Rev-dependent reporter constructs showed no defect in Tat or Rev function in astrocytes compared with HeLa cells. HIV-1 mRNAs were correctly spliced, but only Rev and Tat proteins were efficiently translated from their native mRNAs. Pulse-chase labelling and immunoblot experiments revealed no defect in protein processing, but levels of Gag, Env, or Nef protein expressed were dramatically reduced in astrocytes compared to HeLa cells. These results demonstrate that inefficient translation of HIV-1 structural proteins underlies the restricted infection of astrocytes. The efficient expression of functional Tat and Rev by astrocytes may contribute to HIV-1 neuropathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC103840  PMID: 9847339

Results 1-13 (13)