Recombination between HIV-1 subtypes B and F has generated several circulating and unique recombinant forms, particularly in Latin American areas. In Italy, subtype B is highly prevalent while subtype F is the most common pure non-B subtype. To investigate the recombination pattern in Italian BF recombinant viruses, we characterized full-length sequences derived from 15 adult patients, mostly Italian and infected by the heterosexual route. One of the BF mosaics was a CRF29, three sequences clustered with low bootstrap values with CRF39, CRF40, and CRF42. With the exception of the CRF29-like sequence, the other recombination patterns were unique, but two possible clusters were identified. Analysis of the gp120 V3 domain suggested a possible link with subtype F from Eastern Europe rather than from Latin America, favoring the hypothesis of local recombination between clade B and F viruses over that of import of BF recombinants from Latin America. HIV-1 subtypes B and F appear prone to generation of unique recombinants in Italy, warranting epidemiological surveillance and investigation of a possible clinical significance.
The aim of this work is to characterize the full-length intersubtype recombinant structure of the HIV-1 Circulating Recombinant Form CRF17_BF. A single genome of CRF17_BF was originally described in 2001 as being largely similar to CRF12_BF. Since then, more genomes of CRF17_BF have been sequenced but not adequately described in publications. Here we describe CRF17_BF as a genuine CRF, and analyze its recombination pattern based on bootscan analyses, subtype signature patterns, and phylogenetic reconstruction of subtype-delimited segments. We show that CRF17_BF can be distinguished from CRF12_BF in several regions of the genome, including vpu, pol, env and nef. A complete and accurate characterization and description of recombination breakpoints in CRFs is required for a proper surveillance of HIV-1 genotypes, and important for epidemiological purposes.
HIV-1 subtypes; Argentina; BF recombinants; HIV diversity; Molecular epidemiology; CRF17_BF
We report the rational design and in vivo testing of mosaic proteins for a polyvalent pan-filoviral vaccine using a computational strategy designed for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1 (HIV-1) but also appropriate for Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and potentially other diverse viruses. Mosaics are sets of artificial recombinant proteins that are based on natural proteins. The recombinants are computationally selected using a genetic algorithm to optimize the coverage of potential cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes. Because evolutionary history differs markedly between HIV-1 and filoviruses, we devised an adapted computational technique that is effective for sparsely sampled taxa; our first significant result is that the mosaic technique is effective in creating high-quality mosaic filovirus proteins. The resulting coverage of potential epitopes across filovirus species is superior to coverage by any natural variants, including current vaccine strains with demonstrated cross-reactivity. The mosaic cocktails are also robust: mosaics substantially outperformed natural strains when computationally tested against poorly sampled species and more variable genes. Furthermore, in a computational comparison of cross-reactive potential a design constructed prior to the Bundibugyo outbreak performed nearly as well against all species as an updated design that included Bundibugyo. These points suggest that the mosaic designs would be more resilient than natural-variant vaccines against future Ebola outbreaks dominated by novel viral variants. We demonstrate in vivo immunogenicity and protection against a heterologous challenge in a mouse model. This design work delineates the likely requirements and limitations on broadly-protective filoviral CTL vaccines.
A total of 41 Clostridium botulinum serotype E strains from different geographic regions, including Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greenland, Japan, and the United States, were compared by multilocus sequence typing (MLST), amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis, variable-number tandem-repeat (VNTR) analysis, and botulinum neurotoxin (bont) E gene sequencing. The strains, representing environmental, food-borne, and infant botulism samples collected from 1932 to 2007, were analyzed to compare serotype E strains from different geographic regions and types of botulism and to determine whether each of the strains contained the transposon-associated recombinase rarA, involved with bont/E insertion. MLST examination using 15 genes clustered the strains into several clades, with most members within a cluster sharing the same BoNT/E subtype (BoNT/E1, E2, E3, or E6). Sequencing of the bont/E gene identified two new variants (E7, E8) that showed regions of recombination with other E subtypes. The AFLP dendrogram clustered the 41 strains similarly to the MLST dendrogram. Strains that could not be differentiated by AFLP, MLST, or bont gene sequencing were further examined using three VNTR regions. Both intact and split rarA genes were amplified by PCR in each of the strains, and their identities were confirmed in 11 strains by amplicon sequencing. The findings suggest that (i) the C. botulinum serotype E strains result from the targeted insertion of the bont/E gene into genetically conserved bacteria and (ii) recombination events (not random mutations) within bont/E result in toxin variants or subtypes within strains.
Twenty hemophiliacs (HPs) were found to have human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) 1–2 years after exposure to Factor IX manufactured in Korea in late 1989. Plasma samples collected from donors O and P during their pre-seroconversion acute infection stage were used to manufacture clotting factors, including Factor IX, to treat these patients. To assess whether a genetic relationship exists between the viruses infecting HIV-1-positive HPs and those infecting plasma donors, we evaluated the nef sequences in 216 individuals. Frozen-stored serum samples obtained 1–3 years after the diagnosis of HIV-1 in the 20 HPs were used for amplification of the nef gene by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction, and amplicons were subjected to direct sequencing. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the nef sequences from 143 of the samples belonged to the Korean subclade of HIV-1 subtype B (KSB). Sequences of the nef gene from donors O and P and the 20 HPs comprised two subclusters within KSB together with several local control (LC) sequences. In addition, signature pattern analysis revealed the presence of conserved nucleotides at eight positions in donors O and P compared with LCs (p<0.01). These nationwide and comprehensive nef data support the previous conclusion that HPs were infected with HIV-1 from the clotting factor, although the stringency of nef is weaker than for the pol and vif genes.
hemophilia; HIV-1; nef; phylogenetic analysis; signature pattern analysis
Characterization of residual plasma virus during antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a high priority to improve understanding of HIV-1 pathogenesis and therapy. To understand the evolution of HIV-1 pol and env genes in viremic patients under selective pressure of ART, we performed longitudinal analyses of plasma-derived pol and env sequences from single HIV-1 genomes. We tested the hypotheses that drug resistance in pol was unrelated to changes in coreceptor usage (tropism), and that recombination played a role in evolution of viral strains. Recombinants were identified by using Bayesian and other computational methods. High-level genotypic resistance was seen in ~70% of X4 and R5 strains during ART. There was no significant association between resistance and tropism. Each patient displayed at least one recombinant encompassing env and representing a change in predicted tropism. These data suggest that, in addition to mutation, recombination can play a significant role in shaping HIV-1 evolution.
HIV-1 drug resistance; HIV-1 recombination; HIV-1 tropism
Detailed local HIV-1 sequence data are essential for monitoring the HIV epidemic, for maintaining sensitive sequence-based diagnostics, and to aid in designing vaccines.
Reported here are full envelope sequences derived from 38 randomly selected HIV-1 infections identified at a Gambian clinic between 1991 and 2009. Special care was taken to generate sequences from circulating viral RNA as uncloned products, either by limiting dilution or single genome amplification polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Within these 38 isolates, eight were subtyped as A and 18 as CRF02_AG. A small number of subtype B, C, D viruses were identified. Surprising, however, was the identification of six isolates with subtype J-like envelopes, a subtype found normally in Central Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with gag p24 regions that clustered with subtype A sequences. Near full-length sequence from three of these isolates confirmed that these represent a novel circulating recombinant form of HIV-1, now named CRF49_cpx.
This study expands the HIV-1 sequence database from the Gambia and will provide important data for HIV diagnostics, patient care, and vaccine development.
Sequence characterization of the near full-length genomes of HIV-1 isolates BCF-Dioum and BCF-Kita, originating from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was continued. These NED panel isolates, contributed by F. Brun-Vezinet (ENVA-France), were first identified as subtypes G and H, respectively. Our earlier analyses of portions of their pol genes showed that both were likely to be intersubtype recombinants of different composition. This study analyzed the remainder of each genome, confirming them to be complex recombinants. The BCF-Dioum genome resembles CRF06_cpx strains found in West Africa, composed of subtypes A/G/J/K. The BCF-Kita genome is a unique complex recombinant A–F–G–H–K–U strain. These data support previous observations of the complexity of strains originating from the DRC. BCF-Dioum may be a suitable strain for standards and reagents since it matches a defined circulating recombinant form. Studies and reagents made from BCF-Kita should take into account its complex genome.
Inter-subtype recombinants dominate the HIV epidemics in three geographical regions. To better understand the role of HIV recombinants in shaping the current HIV epidemic, we here present the results of a large-scale subtyping analysis of 9435 HIV-1 sequences that involve subtypes A, B, C, G, F and the epidemiologically important recombinants derived from three continents.
The circulating recombinant form CRF02_AG, common in West Central Africa, appears to result from recombination events that occurred early in the divergence between subtypes A and G, followed by additional recent recombination events that contribute to the breakpoint pattern defining the current recombinant lineage. This finding also corrects a recent claim that G is a recombinant and a descendant of CRF02, which was suggested to be a pure subtype. The BC and BF recombinants in China and South America, respectively, are derived from recent recombination between contemporary parental lineages. Shared breakpoints in South America BF recombinants indicate that the HIV-1 epidemics in Argentina and Brazil are not independent. Therefore, the contemporary HIV-1 epidemic has recombinant lineages of both ancient and more recent origins.
Taken together, we show that these recombinant lineages, which are highly prevalent in the current HIV epidemic, are a mixture of ancient and recent recombination. The HIV pandemic is moving towards having increasing complexity and higher prevalence of recombinant forms, sometimes existing as "families" of related forms. We find that the classification of some CRF designations need to be revised as a consequence of (1) an estimated > 5% error in the original subtype assignments deposited in the Los Alamos sequence database; (2) an increasing number of CRFs are defined while they do not readily fit into groupings for molecular epidemiology and vaccine design; and (3) a dynamic HIV epidemic context.
Clostridium botulinum is a taxonomic designation for at least four diverse species that are defined by the expression of one (monovalent) or two (bivalent) of seven different C. botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs, A-G). The four species have been classified as C. botulinum Groups I-IV. The presence of bont genes in strains representing the different Groups is probably the result of horizontal transfer of the toxin operons between the species.
Chromosome and plasmid sequences of several C. botulinum strains representing A, B, E and F serotypes and a C. butyricum type E strain were compared to examine their genomic organization, or synteny, and the location of the botulinum toxin complex genes. These comparisons identified synteny among proteolytic (Group I) strains or nonproteolytic (Group II) strains but not between the two Groups. The bont complex genes within the strains examined were not randomly located but found within three regions of the chromosome or in two specific sites within plasmids. A comparison of sequences from a Bf strain revealed homology to the plasmid pCLJ with similar locations for the bont/bv b genes but with the bont/a4 gene replaced by the bont/f gene. An analysis of the toxin cluster genes showed that many recombination events have occurred, including several events within the ntnh gene. One such recombination event resulted in the integration of the bont/a1 gene into the serotype toxin B ha cluster, resulting in a successful lineage commonly associated with food borne botulism outbreaks. In C. botulinum type E and C. butyricum type E strains the location of the bont/e gene cluster appears to be the result of insertion events that split a rarA, recombination-associated gene, independently at the same location in both species.
The analysis of the genomic sequences representing different strains reveals the presence of insertion sequence (IS) elements and other transposon-associated proteins such as recombinases that could facilitate the horizontal transfer of the bonts; these events, in addition to recombination among the toxin complex genes, have led to the lineages observed today within the neurotoxin-producing clostridia.
Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of macaques may result in encephalitis, a feature more commonly observed in macaques with rapid progressive disease than in those with conventional disease. This is the first report of two conventional progressors (H631 and H636) with encephalitis in rhesus macaques inoculated with a derivative of SIVsmE543-3. Phylogenetic analyses of viruses isolated from the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and plasma from both animals demonstrated tissue compartmentalization. Furthermore, these viruses appear to have undergone adaptive evolution to preferentially replicate in their respective cell targets in infectivity assays with monocyte derived macrophages and peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Analysis of the number of potential N-linked glycosylation sites (PNGS) in gp160 showed that there was a statistically significant loss of PNGS in viruses isolated from CNS in both macaques compared to SIVsmE543-3. These viruses provide a relevant model to study the adaptations required for SIV to induce encephalitis.
SIV; neuroAIDS; encephalitis; adaptive evolution; preferential cell tropism; compartmentalization; potential N-linked glycosylation sites
Clostridium botulinum and related clostridial species express extremely potent neurotoxins known as botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) that cause long-lasting, potentially fatal intoxications in humans and other mammals. The amino acid variation within the BoNT is used to categorize the species into seven immunologically distinct BoNT serotypes (A–G) which are further divided into subtypes. The BoNTs are located within two generally conserved gene arrangements known as botulinum progenitor complexes which encode toxin-associated proteins involved in toxin stability and expression.
Because serotype A and B strains are responsible for the vast majority of human botulism cases worldwide, the location, arrangement and sequences of genes from eight different toxin complexes representing four different BoNT/A subtypes (BoNT/A1-Ba4) and one BoNT/B1 strain were examined. The bivalent Ba4 strain contained both the BoNT/A4 and BoNT/bvB toxin clusters. The arrangements of the BoNT/A3 and BoNT/A4 subtypes differed from the BoNT/A1 strains and were similar to those of BoNT/A2. However, unlike the BoNT/A2 subtype, the toxin complex genes of BoNT/A3 and BoNT/A4 were found within large plasmids and not within the chromosome. In the Ba4 strain, both BoNT toxin clusters (A4 and bivalent B) were located within the same 270 kb plasmid, separated by 97 kb. Complete genomic sequencing of the BoNT/B1 strain also revealed that its toxin complex genes were located within a 149 kb plasmid and the BoNT/A3 complex is within a 267 kb plasmid.
Despite their size differences and the BoNT genes they contain, the three plasmids containing these toxin cluster genes share significant sequence identity. The presence of partial insertion sequence (IS) elements, evidence of recombination/gene duplication events, and the discovery of the BoNT/A3, BoNT/Ba4 and BoNT/B1 toxin complex genes within plasmids illustrate the different mechanisms by which these genes move among diverse genetic backgrounds of C. botulinum.
The highly restricted distribution of human folate
receptor-alpha (FRα) in normal tissues and its high expression in
some tumors, along with its putative role in tumor cell transformation,
make this antigen a suitable target for antigen-specific, monoclonal
antibody-based immunotherapy for oncology indications. We have developed a
therapeutic humanized monoclonal antibody with high affinity for FRα,
named MORAb-003, which was derived from the optimization of the
LK26 antibody using a whole cell genetic evolution platform. Here
we show that MORAb-003 possesses novel, growth-inhibitory functions
on cells overexpressing FRα. In addition, MORAb-003 elicited robust
antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) and complement-dependent
cytotoxicity (CDC) in vitro, and inhibited growth
of human ovarian tumor xenografts in nude mice. Because of its multimodal
activity in vitro and its safe toxicology profile
in non-human primates, MORAb-003 development has recently been advanced
to clinical trials involving ovarian cancer patients.
preclinical drug evaluation; monoclonal antibody; folate receptor; antibody-dependent
cellular cytotoxicity; complement-dependent cytotoxicity
HIV envelope glycoprotein (Env)-mediated fusion is driven by the concerted coalescence of the HIV gp41 N-helical and C-helical regions, which results in the formation of 6 helix bundles. Kinetics of HIV Env-mediated fusion is an important determinant of sensitivity to entry inhibitors and antibodies. However, the parameters that govern the HIV Env fusion cascade have yet to be fully elucidated. We address this issue by comparing the kinetics HIV-1IIIB Env with those mediated by HIV-2 from two strains with different affinities for CD4 and CXCR4.
HIV-1 and HIV-2 Env-mediated cell fusion occurred with half times of about 60 and 30 min, respectively. Binding experiments of soluble HIV gp120 proteins to CD4 and co-receptor did not correlate with the differences in kinetics of fusion mediated by the three different HIV Envs. However, escape from inhibition by reagents that block gp120-CD4 binding, CD4-induced CXCR4 binding and 6-helix bundle formation, respectively, indicated large difference between HIV-1 and HIV-2 envelope glycoproteins in their CD4-induced rates of engagement with CXCR4.
The HIV-2 Env proteins studied here exhibited a significantly reduced window of time between the engagement of gp120 with CD4 and exposure of the CXCR4 binding site on gp120 as compared with HIV-1IIIB Env. The efficiency with which HIV-2 Env undergoes this CD4-induced conformational change is the major cause of the relatively rapid rate of HIV-2 Env mediated-fusion.
The ViroSeq human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) genotyping system is an integrated system for identification of drug resistance mutations in HIV-1 protease and reverse transcriptase (RT). Reagents are included for sample preparation, reverse transcription, PCR amplification, and sequencing. Software is provided to assemble and edit sequence data and to generate a drug resistance report. We determined the sensitivity and specificity of the ViroSeq system for mutation detection using an ABI PRISM 3100 genetic analyzer with a set of clinical samples and recombinant viruses. Twenty clinical plasma samples (viral loads, 1,800 to 10,500 copies/ml) were characterized by cloning and sequencing individual viral variants. Twelve recombinant-virus samples (viral loads, approximately 2,000 to 5,000 copies/ml) were also prepared. Eleven recombinant-virus samples contained drug resistance mutations as 40% mixtures. One recombinant-virus sample contained an insertion at codon 69 in RT (100% mutant). Plasma and recombinant-virus samples were analyzed using the ViroSeq system. Each sample was analyzed on three consecutive days at each of three testing laboratories. The sensitivity of mutation detection was 99.65% for the clinical plasma samples and 99.7% for the recombinant-virus preparations. The specificity of mutation detection was 99.95% for the clinical samples and 100% for the recombinant-virus mixtures. The base calling accuracy of the 3100 instrument was 99.91%. Mutations in clinical plasma samples and recombinant-virus samples were detected with high sensitivity and specificity, including mutations present as mixtures. This report supports the use of the ViroSeq system for identification of drug resistance mutations in HIV-1 protease and RT genes.
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.
Computer programs for the generation of multiple sequence alignments such as "Clustal W" allow detection of regions that are most conserved among many sequence variants. However, even for regions that are equally conserved, their potential utility as hybridization targets varies. Mismatches in sequence variants are more disruptive in some duplexes than in others. Additionally, the propensity for self-interactions amongst oligonucleotides targeting conserved regions differs and the structure of target regions themselves can also influence hybridization efficiency. There is a need to develop software that will employ thermodynamic selection criteria for finding optimal hybridization targets in related sequences.
A new scheme and new software for optimal detection of oligonucleotide hybridization targets common to families of aligned sequences is suggested and applied to aligned sequence variants of the complete HIV-1 genome. The scheme employs sequential filtering procedures with experimentally determined thermodynamic cut off points: 1) creation of a consensus sequence of RNA or DNA from aligned sequence variants with specification of the lengths of fragments to be used as oligonucleotide targets in the analyses; 2) selection of DNA oligonucleotides that have pairing potential, greater than a defined threshold, with all variants of aligned RNA sequences; 3) elimination of DNA oligonucleotides that have self-pairing potentials for intra- and inter-molecular interactions greater than defined thresholds. This scheme has been applied to the HIV-1 genome with experimentally determined thermodynamic cut off points. Theoretically optimal RNA target regions for consensus oligonucleotides were found. They can be further used for improvement of oligo-probe based HIV detection techniques.
A selection scheme with thermodynamic thresholds and software is presented in this study. The package can be used for any purpose where there is a need to design optimal consensus oligonucleotides capable of interacting efficiently with hybridization targets common to families of aligned RNA or DNA sequences. Our thermodynamic approach can be helpful in designing consensus oligonucleotides with consistently high affinity to target variants in evolutionary related genes or genomes.
Since simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) was found to be the source of the human AIDS pandemic, a major goal has been to characterize the diversity of SIV strains in the wild and to assess their potential for crossover into humans. In the present study, SIV was isolated from a seropositive drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) and three seropositive mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) by using macaque peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Full-length sequences were obtained from a drill and mandrill and designated SIVdrl1FAO and SIVmnd5440, respectively. A 182-bp fragment of the pol genes of the two remaining mandrill SIV isolates was also analyzed. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that SIVdrl1FAO formed a monophyletic clade with SIVmnd5440 and SIVmndM14, recently designated SIVmnd type 2. Both the SIVdrl and SIVmnd type 2 genomes carried a vpx gene and appeared to share a common ancestor with SIVrcm in the 5′ region of the genome and with SIVmndGB1 (type 1) in the 3′ region of the genome. A statistically significant recombination breakpoint was detected at the beginning of envelope, suggesting that the viruses were descendents of the same recombinant. Phylogenetic analysis of vpx and vpr genes demonstrated that the vpx genes formed a monophyletic cluster that grouped with vpr from SIVagm. In addition, both SIVdrl1FAO and SIVmnd5440 replicated in human PBMC and therefore could pose a risk of transmission to the human population.
Two novel simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) strains from wild-caught red-capped mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus torquatus) from Nigeria were characterized. Sequence analysis of the fully sequenced SIV strain rcmNG411 (SIVrcmNG411) and gag and pol sequence of SIVrcmNG409 revealed that they were genetically most closely related to the recently characterized SIVrcm from Gabon (SIVrcmGB1). Thus, red-capped mangabeys from distant geographic locations harbor a common lineage of SIV. SIVrcmNG411 carried a vpx gene in addition to vpr, suggesting a common evolutionary ancestor with SIVsm (from sooty mangabeys). However, SIVrcm was only marginally closer to SIVsm in that region than to any of the other lentiviruses. SIVrcm showed the highest similarity in pol with SIVdrl, isolated from a drill, a primate that is phylogenetically distinct from mangabey monkeys, and clustered with other primate lentiviruses (primarily SIVcpz [from chimpanzees] and SIVagmSab [from African green monkeys]) discordantly in different regions of the genome, suggesting a history of recombination. Despite the genetic relationship to SIVcpz in the pol gene, SIVrcmNG411 did not replicate in chimpanzee peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), although two other viruses unrelated to SIVcpz, SIVmndGB1 (from mandrills) and SIVlhoest (from L'Hoest monkeys), were able to grow in chimpanzee PBMC. The CCR5 24-bp deletion previously described in red-capped mangabeys from Gabon was also observed in Nigerian red-capped mangabeys, and SIVrcmNG411, like SIVrcmGB1, used CCR2B and STRL33 as coreceptors for virus entry. SIVrcm, SIVsm, SIVmndGB1, and all four SIVlhoest isolates but not SIVsun (from sun-tailed monkeys) replicated efficiently in human PBMC, suggesting that the ability to infect the human host can vary within one lineage.
To better understand the virological aspect of the expanding AIDS epidemic in southern Africa, a set of 23 near-full-length clones of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) representing eight AIDS patients from Botswana were sequenced and analyzed phylogenetically. All study viruses from Botswana belonged to HIV-1 subtype C. The interpatient diversity of the clones from Botswana was higher than among full-length isolates of subtype B or among a set of full-length HIV-1 genomes of subtype C from India (mean value of 9.1% versus 6.5 and 4.3%, respectively; P < 0.0001 for both comparisons). Similar results were observed in all genes across the entire viral genome. We suggest that the high level of HIV-1 diversity might be a typical feature of the subtype C epidemic in southern Africa. The reason or reasons for this diversity are unclear, but may include an altered replication efficiency of HIV-1 subtype C and/or the multiple introduction of different subtype C viruses.