Recent studies suggest HIV-1 inter-subtype differences in co-receptor usage. We examined the correlation between HIV-1 subtype and co-receptor usage among treatment-naïve HIV-1 subjects in Singapore. Additionally, we investigated whether the subtype co-receptor association was influenced by stage of infection.
V3 sequences of HIV-1 envelope protein gp120 were obtained from 110 HIV treatment-naïve patients and genotypic co-receptor tropism determination was performed using Geno2pheno. Two false-positive rate (FPR) cut-offs, 10% and 5.75% were selected for tropism testing.
Subtype assignment of viral strains from 110 HIV-infected individuals based on partial sequencing of HIV-1 pol, gp120 and gp41 were as follows: 27 subtype B, 64 CRF01_AE, 10 CRF51_01B, and 9 other subtypes. At FPR=10%, 10 (100%) CRF51_01B-infected subjects and 26 (40.6%) CRF01_AE-infected subjects had CXCR4-using virus, compared to 7 (25.9%) subtype B subjects and 1 (11.1%) CRF33_01B-infected subject (P < 0.001). At FPR=5.75%, 10 (100%) CRF51_01B-infected subjects and 20 (31.3%) CRF01_AE-infected subjects had CXCR4-using virus, compared to 4 (14.8%) subtype B and 1 (11.1%) CRF33_01B-infected subjects (P < 0.001). Among those with evidence of seroconversion within 2 years prior to study enrolment, 100% of CRF51_01B-infected subjects had CXCR4-using virus, independent of Geno2pheno FPR.
CRF51_01B and CRF01_AE-infected individuals have higher prevalence of CXCR4-usage compared to subtype B infected individuals. Further studies examining these differences could help optimise the use of CCR5-antagonist in populations with these subtypes, and increase our understanding of HIV-1 biology.