Established infections with the human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV, SIV) are thought to be permanent with even the most effective immune responses and anti-retroviral therapies (ART) only able to control, but not clear, these infections1–4. Whether the residual virus that maintains these infections is vulnerable to clearance is a question of central importance to the future management of millions of HIV-infected individuals. We recently reported that ~50% of rhesus macaques (RM) vaccinated with SIV protein-expressing Rhesus Cytomegalovirus (RhCMV/SIV) vectors manifest durable, aviremic control of infection with highly pathogenic SIVmac2395. Here, we demonstrate that regardless of route of challenge, RhCMV/SIV vector-elicited immune responses control SIVmac239 after demonstrable lymphatic and hematogenous viral dissemination, and that replication-competent SIV persists in multiple sites for weeks to months. However, over time, protected RM lost signs of SIV infection, showing a consistent lack of measurable plasma or tissue-associated virus using ultrasensitive assays, and loss of T cell reactivity to SIV determinants not in the vaccine. Extensive ultrasensitive RT-PCR and PCR analysis of tissues from RhCMV/SIV vector-protected RM necropsied 69–172 weeks after challenge did not detect SIV RNA or DNA over background, and replication-competent SIV was not detected in these RM by extensive co-culture analysis of tissues or by adoptive transfer of 60 million hematolymphoid cells to naïve RM. These data provide compelling evidence for progressive clearance of a pathogenic lentiviral infection, and suggest that some lentiviral reservoirs may be susceptible to the continuous effector memory T cell-mediated immune surveillance elicited and maintained by CMV vectors.
Over 80% of sexual HIV-1 transmissions originate from a single viral variant, but the underlying basis for this transmission bottleneck remains to be elucidated. Nonhuman primate models of mucosal virus transmission allow opportunities to gain insight into the basis of this mucosal bottleneck. We used simulated inocula consisting of either non-infectious vital dye or contrast dye with non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualize mucosal exposure and passive lymphatic drainage patterns following vaginal and rectal exposures in Indian origin rhesus macaques. Results revealed a limited overall distance of dye coverage from the anal verge following 1 ml (n = 8) intrarectally administered, which greatly increased with a 3 ml (n = 8) volume. Intravaginal dye exposure using 2 ml revealed complete coverage of the mucosa of the vagina and ectocervix, however dye was not detectable in the endocervix, uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries in nuliparous sexually mature rhesus macaques (n = 9). In addition, following submucosal and intranodal injections of vital dye or MRI contrast dye in the rectum (n = 9), or distal and proximal vagina (n = 4), the lymphatic drainage pathways were identified as first the internal then common iliac chain followed by para-aortic lymph nodes. Drainage from the distal descending colon (n = 8) was via the para-colonic lymph nodes followed by the inferior mesenteric and para-aortic lymph nodes. Analysis after vaginal challenge with infectious SIVmac239 followed by euthanasia at day 3 revealed a pattern of viral dissemination consistent with the imaging results. These results provide insights into potential patterns of viral dissemination that can help guide efforts to better elucidate the earliest events of virus transmission and potential intervention strategies.
When microbicides used for HIV prevention contain antiretroviral drugs, there is concern for the potential emergence of drug-resistant HIV following use in infected individuals who are either unaware of their HIV infection status or who are aware but still choose to use the microbicide. Resistant virus could ultimately impact their responsiveness to treatment and/or result in subsequent transmission of drug-resistant virus. We tested whether drug resistance mutations (DRMs) would emerge in macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus expressing HIV reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT) after sustained exposure to the potent non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) MIV-150 delivered via an intravaginal ring (IVR). We first treated 4 SHIV-RT-infected animals with daily intramuscular injections of MIV-150 over two 21 day (d) intervals separated by a 7 d drug hiatus. In all 4 animals, NNRTI DRMs (single and combinations) were detected within 14 d and expanded in proportion and diversity with time. Knowing that we could detect in vivo emergence of NNRTI DRMs in response to MIV-150, we then tested whether a high-dose MIV-150 IVR (loaded with >10 times the amount being used in a combination microbicide IVR in development) would select for resistance in 6 infected animals, modeling use of this prevention method by an HIV-infected woman. We previously demonstrated that this MIV-150 IVR provides significant protection against vaginal SHIV-RT challenge. Wearing the MIV-150 IVR for 56 d led to only 2 single DRMs in 2 of 6 animals (430 RT sequences analyzed total, 0.46%) from plasma and lymph nodes despite MIV-150 persisting in the plasma, vaginal fluids, and genital tissues. Only wild type virus sequences were detected in the genital tissues. These findings indicate a low probability for the emergence of DRMs after topical MIV-150 exposure and support the advancement of MIV-150-containing microbicides.
We report the molecular identification, cloning and initial biological characterization of 12 full-length HIV-1 subtype A, D and A/D recombinant transmitted/founder (T/F) genomes. T/F genomes contained intact canonical open reading frames and all T/F viruses were replication competent in primary human T-cells, although subtype D virus replication was more efficient (p<0.05). All 12 viruses utilized CCR5 but not CXCR4 as a co-receptor for entry and exhibited a neutralization profile typical of tier 2 primary virus strains, with significant differences observed between subtype A and D viruses with respect to sensitivity to monoclonal antibodies VRC01, PG9 and PG16 and polyclonal subtype C anti-HIV IgG (p<0.05 for each). The present report doubles the number of T/F HIV-1 clones available for pathogenesis and vaccine research and extends their representation to include subtypes A, B, C and D.
HIV-1; transmitted/founder virus; single genome sequencing; HIV-1 transmission; HIV-1 subtype A; HIV-1 subtype D; neutralizing antibodies
The sooty mangabey-derived simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) strain E660 (SIVsmE660) is a genetically heterogeneous, pathogenic isolate that is commonly used as a vaccine challenge strain in the nonhuman primate (NHP) model of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. Though it is often employed to assess antibody-based vaccine strategies, its sensitivity to antibody-mediated neutralization has not been well characterized. Here, we utilize single-genome sequencing and infectivity assays to analyze the neutralization sensitivity of the uncloned SIVsmE660 isolate, individual viruses comprising the isolate, and transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses arising from low-dose mucosal inoculation of macaques with the isolate. We found that the SIVsmE660 isolate overall was highly sensitive to neutralization by SIV-infected macaque plasma samples (50% inhibitory concentration [IC50] < 10−5) and monoclonal antibodies targeting V3 (IC50 < 0.01 μg/ml), CD4-induced (IC50 < 0.1 μg/ml), CD4 binding site (IC50 ∼ 1 μg/ml), and V4 (IC50, ∼5 μg/ml) epitopes. In comparison, SIVmac251 and SIVmac239 were highly resistant to neutralization by these same antibodies. Differences in neutralization sensitivity between SIVsmE660 and SIVmac251/239 were not dependent on the cell type in which virus was produced or tested. These findings indicate that in comparison to SIVmac251/239 and primary HIV-1 viruses, SIVsmE660 generally exhibits substantially less masking of antigenically conserved Env epitopes. Interestingly, we identified a minor population of viruses (∼10%) in both the SIVsmE660 isolate and T/F viruses arising from it that were substantially more resistant (>1,000-fold) to antibody neutralization and another fraction (∼20%) that was intermediate in neutralization resistance. These findings may explain the variable natural history and variable protection afforded by heterologous Env-based vaccines in rhesus macaques challenged by high-dose versus low-dose SIVsmE660 inoculation regimens.
Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) stocks for in vivo nonhuman primate models of AIDS are typically generated by transfection of 293T cells with molecularly cloned viral genomes or by expansion in productively infected T cells. Although titers of stocks are determined for infectivity in vitro prior to in vivo inoculation, virus production methods may differentially affect stock features that are not routinely analyzed but may impact in vivo infectivity, mucosal transmissibility, and early infection events. We performed a detailed analysis of nine SIV stocks, comprising five infection-derived SIVmac251 viral swarm stocks and paired infection- and transfected-293T-cell-derived stocks of both SIVmac239 and SIVmac766. Representative stocks were evaluated for (i) virus content, (ii) infectious titer, (iii) sequence diversity and polymorphism frequency by single-genome amplification and 454 pyrosequencing, (iv) virion-associated Env content, and (v) cytokine and chemokine content by 36-plex Luminex analysis. Regardless of production method, all stocks had comparable particle/infectivity ratios, with the transfected-293T stocks possessing the highest overall virus content and infectivity titers despite containing markedly lower levels of virion-associated Env than infection-derived viruses. Transfected-293T stocks also contained fewer and lower levels of cytokines and chemokines than infection-derived stocks, which had elevated levels of multiple analytes, with substantial variability among stocks. Sequencing of the infection-derived SIVmac251 stocks revealed variable levels of viral diversity between stocks, with evidence of stock-specific selection and expansion of unique viral lineages. These analyses suggest that there may be underappreciated features of SIV in vivo challenge stocks with the potential to impact early infection events, which may merit consideration when selecting virus stocks for in vivo studies.
We used the simian immunodeficiency virus mac251 (SIVmac251) macaque model to study the effect of the dose of mucosal exposure on vaccine efficacy. We immunized macaques with a DNA prime followed by SIV gp120 protein immunization with ALVAC-SIV and gp120 in alum, and we challenged them with SIVmac251 at either a single high dose or at two repeated low-dose exposures to a 10-fold-lower dose. Infection was neither prevented nor modified following a single high-dose challenge of the immunized macaques. However, two exposures to a 10-fold-lower dose resulted in protection from SIVmac251 acquisition in 3 out of 12 macaques. The remaining animals that were infected had a modulated pathogenesis, significant downregulation of interferon responsive genes, and upregulation of genes involved in B- and T-cell responses. Thus, the choice of the experimental model greatly influences the vaccine efficacy of vaccines for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The recombinant canarypox vector, ALVAC-HIV, together with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) gp120 envelope glycoprotein, has protected 31.2% of Thai individuals from HIV acquisition in the RV144 HIV vaccine trial. This outcome was unexpected, given the limited ability of the vaccine components to induce CD8+ T-cell responses or broadly neutralizing antibodies. We vaccinated macaques with an immunization regimen intended to mimic the RV144 trial and exposed them intrarectally to a dose of the simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac251 that transmits few virus variants, similar to HIV transmission to humans. Vaccination induced anti-envelope antibodies in all vaccinees and CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses. Three of the 11 macaques vaccinated with ALVAC-SIV/gp120 were protected from SIVmac251 acquisition, but the result was not significant. The remaining vaccinees were infected and progressed to disease. The magnitudes of vaccine-induced SIVmac251-specific T-cell responses and binding antibodies were not significantly different between protected and infected animals. However, sera from protected animals had higher avidity antibodies to gp120, recognized the variable envelope regions V1/V2, and reduced SIVmac251 infectivity in cells that express high levels of α4β7 integrins, suggesting a functional role of antibodies to V2. The current results emphasize the utility of determining the titer of repeated mucosal challenge in the preclinical evaluation of HIV vaccines.
A hallmark of pathogenic simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections is the rapid and near-complete depletion of mucosal CD4+ T lymphocytes from the gastrointestinal tract. Loss of these cells and disruption of epithelial barrier function are associated with microbial translocation, which has been proposed to drive chronic systemic immune activation and disease progression. Here, we evaluate in rhesus macaques a novel attenuated variant of pathogenic SIVmac239, termed ΔGY, which contains a deletion of a Tyr and a proximal Gly from a highly conserved YxxØ trafficking motif in the envelope cytoplasmic tail. Compared to SIVmac239, ΔGY established a comparable acute peak of viremia but only transiently infected lamina propria and caused little or no acute depletion of mucosal CD4+ T cells and no detectable microbial translocation. Nonetheless, these animals developed T-cell activation and declining peripheral blood CD4+ T cells and ultimately progressed with clinical or pathological features of AIDS. ΔGY-infected animals also showed no infection of macrophages or central nervous system tissues even in late-stage disease. Although the ΔGY mutation persisted, novel mutations evolved, including the formation of new YxxØ motifs in two of four animals. These findings indicate that disruption of this trafficking motif by the ΔGY mutation leads to a striking alteration in anatomic distribution of virus with sparing of lamina propria and a lack of microbial translocation. Because these animals exhibited wild-type levels of acute viremia and immune activation, our findings indicate that these pathological events are dissociable and that immune activation unrelated to gut damage can be sufficient for the development of AIDS.
During a population decline or disease outbreak, the true risk of specific diseases to a wild population is often difficult to determine because of a lack of baseline disease information. To better understand the risk of disease in an endangered and scientifically important population of chimpanzees (Pan trogylodytes schweinfurthii), a health monitoring program was initiated in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. As part of this health monitoring program, comprehensive necropsies with histopathology were conducted on chimpanzees (n =11; 5 male, 6 female), ranging in age from fetal to 44 yr, that were found dead between August 2004 and January 2010. In contrast to previous reports, respiratory disease was not noted as a cause of morbidity or mortality. Trauma was the most common cause of death in these 11 chimpanzees. All of the chimpanzees greater than 1 yr of age had intestinal and mesenteric parasitic granulomas associated with true strongyles consistent with Oesophagostomum spp. The relative numbers of granulomas increased with age and, in some cases, may have been a cause of weight loss and diarrhea. Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)cpz infection was documented in four deceased apes, all of whom exhibited varying amounts of lymphoid depletion including two females with marked CD4+ T cell loss consistent with end-stage SIVmac or human immunodeficiency virus infections. Myocardial megalokaryosis was common in chimpanzees greater than 1 mo of age; yet myocardial interstitial fibrosis, a common lesion in captive chimpanzees, was uncommon and only noted in two aged chimpanzees. These findings provide important information on causes of morbidity and mortality in wild chimpanzees, information that can be used to interpret findings during population declines and lead to better management of this population in the context of disease risk.
Chimpanzee; pathology; Oesophagostomum spp; simian immunodeficiency virus; Gombe National Park
Chimpanzees in west central Africa (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) are endemically infected with simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVcpzPtt) that have crossed the species barrier to humans and gorillas on at least five occasions, generating pandemic and nonpandemic forms of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) as well as gorilla SIV (SIVgor). Chimpanzees in east Africa (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) are also infected with SIVcpz; however, their viruses (SIVcpzPts) have never been found in humans. To examine whether this is due to a paucity of natural infections, we used noninvasive methods to screen wild-living eastern chimpanzees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda, and Rwanda. We also screened bonobos (Pan paniscus) in the DRC, a species not previously tested for SIV in the wild. Fecal samples (n = 3,108) were collected at 50 field sites, tested for species and subspecies origin, and screened for SIVcpz antibodies and nucleic acids. Of 2,565 samples from eastern chimpanzees, 323 were antibody positive and 92 contained viral RNA. The antibody-positive samples represented 76 individuals from 19 field sites, all sampled north of the Congo River in an area spanning 250,000 km2. In this region, SIVcpzPts was common and widespread, with seven field sites exhibiting infection rates of 30% or greater. The overall prevalence of SIVcpzPts infection was 13.4% (95% confidence interval, 10.7% to 16.5%). In contrast, none of the 543 bonobo samples from six sites was antibody positive. All newly identified SIVcpzPts strains clustered in strict accordance to their subspecies origin; however, they exhibited considerable genetic diversity, especially in protein domains known to be under strong host selection pressure. Thus, the absence of SIVcpzPts zoonoses cannot be explained by an insufficient primate reservoir. Instead, greater adaptive hurdles may have prevented the successful colonization of humans by P. t. schweinfurthii viruses.
There is an urgent need to develop new pathogenic R5 simian/human immunodeficiency viruses (SHIVs) for the evaluation of candidate anti-HIV vaccines in nonhuman primates. Here, we characterize swarm SHIVAD8 stocks, prepared from three infected rhesus macaques with documented immunodeficiency at the time of euthanasia, for their capacity to establish durable infections in macaques following inoculation by the intravenous (i.v.) or intrarectal (i.r.) route. All three viral stocks (SHIVAD8-CE8J, SHIVAD8-CK15, and SHIVAD8-CL98) exhibited robust replication in vivo and caused marked depletion of CD4+ T cells affecting both memory and naïve CD4+ T lymphocyte subsets following administration by either route. Eleven of 22 macaques inoculated with the new SHIVAD8 stocks were euthanized with clinical symptoms of immunodeficiency and evidence of opportunistic infections (Pneumocystis, Candida, and Mycobacterium). A single but unique founder virus, also present in the SHIVAD8-CE8J swarm stock, was transmitted to two animals following a single i.r. inoculation of approximately 3 50% animal infectious doses, which is close to the threshold required to establish infection in all exposed animals. Because the three new SHIVAD8 viruses are mucosally transmissible, exhibited tier 2 sensitivity to anti-HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies, deplete CD4+ T lymphocytes in vivo, and induce AIDS in macaques, they are eminently suitable as challenge viruses in vaccine experiments.
Despite the fact that approximately half of all HIV patients acquire infection through penile exposure, there have been no recent studies of penile SIV transmission in rhesus macaques and the nature of the virus variants transmitted, target cells, and pathways of virus dissemination to systemic lymphoid tissues are not known. Single genome amplification (SGA) and sequencing of HIV-1 RNA in plasma of acutely infected humans allows the identification and enumeration of transmitted/founder viruses responsible for productive systemic infection. Studies using the SGA strategy have shown that intrarectal and intravaginal SIV transmission to macaques recapitulates key features of human HIV transmission. To date, no studies have used the SGA assay to identify transmitted/founder virus(es) in macaques infected after penile SIV exposure. Here we report that SIV can be transmitted by penile SIV exposure. However, similar exposure to a high-dose inoculum infects only about half the animals, which is about 50% less efficient transmission than occurs after vaginal SIV challenge. In addition, only a single SIV env variant established the systemic infection in all five animals that became infected after penile exposure, a result that is consistent with low incidence and few transmitted HIV variants in heterosexually infected men. Our results suggest that the penile transmission of SIVmac251 in rhesus macaques recapitulates the key features of penile HIV-1 transmission and may provide insight into host or viral factors that permit penile transmission and dissemination. Furthermore, this SIV challenge exposure route will be useful in testing vaccines and other prophylactic approaches.
The monoclonal antibody (MAb) VRC01 was isolated from a slowly progressing HIV-1-infected donor and was shown to neutralize diverse HIV-1 strains by binding to the conserved CD4 binding site (CD4bs) of gp120. To better understand the virologic factors associated with such antibody development, we characterized HIV-1 envelope (Env) variants from this donor and five other donors who developed broadly neutralizing antibodies. A total of 473 env sequences were obtained by single-genome amplification, and 100 representative env clones were expressed and tested for entry and neutralization sensitivity. While VRC01 neutralizes about 90% of the genetically diverse heterologous HIV-1 strains tested, only selective archival Env variants from the VRC01 donor were sensitive to VRC01 and all of the Env variants derived from the donor plasma were resistant, indicating strong antibody-based selection pressure. Despite their resistance to this broadly reactive MAb that partially mimics CD4, all Env variants required CD4 for entry. Three other CD4bs MAbs from the same donor were able to neutralize some VRC01 escape variants, suggesting that CD4bs antibodies continued to evolve in response to viral escape. We also observed a relatively high percentage of VRC01-resistant Env clones in the plasma of four of five additional broadly neutralizing donors, suggesting the presence of CD4bs-directed neutralizing antibodies in these donors. In total, these data indicate that the CD4bs-directed neutralizing antibodies exert ongoing selection pressure on the conserved CD4bs epitope of HIV-1 Env.
We have shown that sequential replicating adenovirus type 5 host range mutant human immunodeficiency virus/simian immunodeficiency virus (HIV/SIV) recombinant priming delivered first intranasally (i.n.) plus orally and then intratracheally (i.t.), followed by envelope protein boosting, elicits broad cellular immunity and functional, envelope-specific serum and mucosal antibodies that correlate with protection from high-dose SIV and simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenges in rhesus macaques. Here we extended these studies to compare the standard i.n./i.t. regimen with additional mucosal administration routes, including sublingual, rectal, and vaginal routes. Similar systemic cellular and humoral immunity was elicited by all immunization routes. Central and effector memory T cell responses were also elicited by the four immunization routes in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and jejunal, rectal, and vaginal tissue samples. Cellular responses in vaginal tissue were more compartmentalized, being induced primarily by intravaginal administration. In contrast, all immunization routes elicited secretory IgA (sIgA) responses at multiple mucosal sites. Following a repeated low-dose intrarectal (i.r.) challenge with SIVmac251 at a dose transmitting one or two variants, protection against acquisition was not achieved except in one macaque in the i.r. immunized group. All immunized macaques exhibited reduced peak viremia compared to that of controls, correlated inversely with prechallenge serum antienvelope avidity, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) titers, and percent antibody-dependent cell-mediated viral inhibition. Both antibody avidity and ADCC titers were correlated with the number of exposures required for infection. Notably, we show for the first time a significant correlation of vaccine-induced sIgA titers in rectal secretions with delayed acquisition. Further investigation of the characteristics and properties of the sIgA should elucidate the mechanism leading to this protective effect.
Genome sequences of transmitted/founder (T/F) HIV-1 have been inferred by analyzing single genome amplicons of acute infection plasma viral RNA in the context of a mathematical model of random virus evolution; however, few of these T/F sequences have been molecularly cloned and biologically characterized. Here, we describe the derivation and biological analysis of ten infectious molecular clones, each representing a T/F genome responsible for productive HIV-1 clade B clinical infection. Each of the T/F viruses primarily utilized the CCR5 coreceptor for entry and replicated efficiently in primary human CD4+ T lymphocytes. This result supports the conclusion that single genome amplification-derived sequences from acute infection allow for the inference of T/F viral genomes that are consistently replication competent. Studies with monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) demonstrated various levels of replication among the T/F viruses. Although all T/F viruses replicated in MDM, the overall replication efficiency was significantly lower compared to prototypic “highly macrophage-tropic” virus strains. This phenotype was transferable by expressing the env genes in an isogenic proviral DNA backbone, indicating that T/F virus macrophage tropism mapped to Env. Furthermore, significantly higher concentrations of soluble CD4 were required to inhibit T/F virus infection compared to prototypic macrophage-tropic virus strains. Our findings suggest that the acquisition of clinical HIV-1 subtype B infection occurs by mucosal exposure to virus that is not highly macrophage tropic and that the generation and initial biological characterization of 10 clade B T/F infectious molecular clones provides new opportunities to probe virus-host interactions involved in HIV-1 transmission.
TRIM5α is a natural resistance factor that binds retroviral capsid proteins and restricts virus replication. The B30.2/SPRY domain of TRIM5α is polymorphic in rhesus macaques, and some alleles are associated with reduced simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) SIVmac251 and SIVsmE543 replication in vivo. We determined the distribution of TRIM5α alleles by PCR and sequence analysis of the B30.2/SPRY domain in a cohort of 82 macaques. Thirty-nine of these macaques were mock vaccinated, 43 were vaccinated with either DNA-SIV/ALVAC-SIV/gp120, ALVAC-SIV/gp120, or gp120 alone, and all were exposed intrarectally to SIVmac251 at one of three doses. We assessed whether the TRIM5α genotype of the macaques affected the replication of challenge virus by studying the number of SIV variants transmitted, the number of exposures required, the SIVmac251 viral level in plasma and tissue, and the CD4+ T-cell counts. Our results demonstrated that TRIM5α alleles, previously identified as restrictive for SIVmac251 replication in vivo following intravenous exposure, did not affect SIVmac251 replication following mucosal exposure, regardless of prior vaccination, challenge dose, or the presence of the protective major histocompatibility complex alleles (MamuA01+, MamuB08+, or MamuB017+). The TRIM5α genotype had no apparent effect on the number of transmitted variants or the number of challenge exposures necessary to infect the animals. DNA sequencing of the SIVmac251 Gag gene of the two stocks used in our study revealed SIVmac239-like sequences that are predicted to be resistant to TRIM5α restriction. Thus, the TRIM5α genotype does not confound results of mucosal infection of rhesus macaques with SIVmac251.
Reliable methods for measuring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) incidence are a high priority for HIV prevention. They are particularly important to assess the population-level effectiveness of new prevention strategies, to evaluate the community-wide impact of ongoing prevention programs, and to assess whether a proposed prevention trial can be performed in a timely and cost-efficient manner in a particular population and setting. New incidence assays and algorithms that are accurate, rapid, cost-efficient, and can be performed on easily-obtained specimens are urgently needed. On May 4, 2011, the Division of AIDS (DAIDS), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), sponsored a 1-day workshop to examine strategies for developing new assays to distinguish recent from chronic HIV infections. Participants included leading investigators, clinicians, public health experts, industry, regulatory specialists, and other stakeholders. Immune-based parameters, markers of viral sequence diversity, and other biomarkers such as telomere length were evaluated. Emerging nanotechnology and chip-based diagnostics, including algorithms for performing diverse assays on a single platform, were also reviewed. This report summarizes the presentations, panel discussions, and the consensus reached for pursuing the development of a new generation of HIV incidence assays.
Single genome sequencing of early HIV-1 genomes provides a sensitive, dynamic assessment of virus evolution and insight into the earliest anti-viral immune responses in vivo. By using this approach, together with deep sequencing, site-directed mutagenesis, antibody adsorptions and virus-entry assays, we found evidence in three subjects of neutralizing antibody (Nab) responses as early as 2 weeks post-seroconversion, with Nab titers as low as 1∶20 to 1∶50 (IC50) selecting for virus escape. In each of the subjects, Nabs targeted different regions of the HIV-1 envelope (Env) in a strain-specific, conformationally sensitive manner. In subject CH40, virus escape was first mediated by mutations in the V1 region of the Env, followed by V3. HIV-1 specific monoclonal antibodies from this subject mapped to an immunodominant region at the base of V3 and exhibited neutralizing patterns indistinguishable from polyclonal antibody responses, indicating V1–V3 interactions within the Env trimer. In subject CH77, escape mutations mapped to the V2 region of Env, several of which selected for alterations of glycosylation. And in subject CH58, escape mutations mapped to the Env outer domain. In all three subjects, initial Nab recognition was followed by sequential rounds of virus escape and Nab elicitation, with Nab escape variants exhibiting variable costs to replication fitness. Although delayed in comparison with autologous CD8 T-cell responses, our findings show that Nabs appear earlier in HIV-1 infection than previously recognized, target diverse sites on HIV-1 Env, and impede virus replication at surprisingly low titers. The unexpected in vivo sensitivity of early transmitted/founder virus to Nabs raises the possibility that similarly low concentrations of vaccine-induced Nabs could impair virus acquisition in natural HIV-1 transmission, where the risk of infection is low and the number of viruses responsible for transmission and productive clinical infection is typically one.
Characterizing early adaptive immune responses to HIV-1 can inform studies of virus persistence, pathogenesis and natural history and can guide rational vaccine design. Previous studies examined the role of neutralizing antibodies (Nab) in acute and chronic HIV-1 infection but not against the precise envelope (Env) glycoproteins of transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses and not in direct comparison with autologous cellular immune responses in the same subjects. Here, we identified T/F HIV-1 env genes and their progeny in three subjects by single genome sequencing and performed a dynamic assessment of Nab responses based on env evolution and phenotypic changes in the Env glycoprotein over time. Surprisingly, we found genetic evidence of Nab activity as early as 2 weeks post-seroconversion, with Nab titers as low as 1∶20 to 1∶50 (IC50) selecting for virus escape. Nabs targeted different regions of the HIV-1 envelope (Env) in a strain-specific, conformationally sensitive manner. Although delayed in comparison with autologous CD8 T-cell responses, Nabs appeared earlier in HIV-1 infection than previously recognized and impeded virus entry at low titers. This raises the possibility that similarly low concentrations of vaccine-induced Nabs could impair virus acquisition in natural HIV-1 transmission, where the risk of infection is low and the number of viruses responsible for transmission and productive clinical infection is typically one.
SIVs infecting wild-living apes in west central Africa have crossed the species barrier to humans on at least four different occasions, one of which spawned the AIDS pandemic. Although the chimpanzee precursor of pandemic HIV-1 strains must have been able to infect humans, the capacity of SIVcpz strains to replicate in human lymphoid tissues (HLTs) is not known. Here, we show that SIVcpz strains from two chimpanzee subspecies are capable of replicating in human tonsillary explant cultures, albeit only at low titers. However, SIVcpz replication in HLT was significantly improved after introduction of a previously identified human-specific adaptation at position 30 in the viral Gag matrix protein. An Arg or Lys at this position significantly increased SIVcpz replication in HLT, while the same mutation reduced viral replication in chimpanzee-derived CD4+ T cells. Thus, naturally occurring SIVcpz strains are capable of infecting HLTs, the major site of HIV-1 replication in vivo. However, efficient replication requires the acquisition of a host-specific adaptation in the viral matrix protein. These results identify Gag matrix as a major determinant of SIVcpz replication fitness in humans and suggest a critical role in the emergence of HIV/AIDS.
Although xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) has been previously linked to prostate cancer and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, recent data indicate that results interpreted as evidence of human XMRV infection reflect laboratory contamination rather than authentic in vivo infection. Nevertheless, XMRV is a retrovirus of undefined pathogenic potential that is able to replicate in human cells. Here we describe a comprehensive analysis of two male pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) experimentally infected with XMRV. Following intravenous inoculation with >1010 RNA copy equivalents of XMRV, viral replication was limited and transient, peaking at ≤2,200 viral RNA (vRNA) copies/ml plasma and becoming undetectable by 4 weeks postinfection, though viral DNA (vDNA) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells remained detectable through 119 days of follow-up. Similarly, vRNA was not detectable in lymph nodes by in situ hybridization despite detectable vDNA. Sequencing of cell-associated vDNA revealed extensive G-to-A hypermutation, suggestive of APOBEC-mediated viral restriction. Consistent with limited viral replication, we found transient upregulation of type I interferon responses that returned to baseline by 2 weeks postinfection, no detectable cellular immune responses, and limited or no spread to prostate tissue. Antibody responses, including neutralizing antibodies, however, were detectable by 2 weeks postinfection and maintained throughout the study. Both animals were healthy for the duration of follow-up. These findings indicate that XMRV replication and spread were limited in pigtailed macaques, predominantly by APOBEC-mediated hypermutation. Given that human APOBEC proteins restrict XMRV infection in vitro, human XMRV infection, if it occurred, would be expected to be characterized by similarly limited viral replication and spread.
Here we have identified HIV-1 B clade Envelope (Env) amino acid signatures from early in infection that may be favored at transmission, as well as patterns of recurrent mutation in chronic infection that may reflect common pathways of immune evasion. To accomplish this, we compared thousands of sequences derived by single genome amplification from several hundred individuals that were sampled either early in infection or were chronically infected. Samples were divided at the outset into hypothesis-forming and validation sets, and we used phylogenetically corrected statistical strategies to identify signatures, systematically scanning all of Env. Signatures included single amino acids, glycosylation motifs, and multi-site patterns based on functional or structural groupings of amino acids. We identified signatures near the CCR5 co-receptor-binding region, near the CD4 binding site, and in the signal peptide and cytoplasmic domain, which may influence Env expression and processing. Two signatures patterns associated with transmission were particularly interesting. The first was the most statistically robust signature, located in position 12 in the signal peptide. The second was the loss of an N-linked glycosylation site at positions 413–415; the presence of this site has been recently found to be associated with escape from potent and broad neutralizing antibodies, consistent with enabling a common pathway for immune escape during chronic infection. Its recurrent loss in early infection suggests it may impact fitness at the time of transmission or during early viral expansion. The signature patterns we identified implicate Env expression levels in selection at viral transmission or in early expansion, and suggest that immune evasion patterns that recur in many individuals during chronic infection when antibodies are present can be selected against when the infection is being established prior to the adaptive immune response.
A single virus most often establishes HIV-1 infection. As a consequence, virus sampled early in infection is usually very homogeneous. A few months into the infection, the virus begins to accumulate mutations as it evolves to evade HIV-specific immune responses mounted by the infected host. During chronic infection, the viral population diversifies, reflecting the history of mutations that arose within that infected individual. We hypothesized that particular amino acids might confer a selective advantage during transmission or early infection, and others might recur during chronic infection because they provide common and effective strategies of immune escape. We compared a large number of viral sequences from several hundred infected people sampled soon after transmission or during chronic infection to identify such infection-status “signature” patterns. A particularly robust signature was identified in the signal peptide of Envelope, a region that regulates its expression. Other signatures were found in regions of Envelope that interact with its cellular receptors, or are implicated in immune escape.
Mucosal transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) results in a bottleneck in viral genetic diversity. Gnanakaran and colleagues used a computational strategy to identify signature amino acids at particular positions in Envelope that were associated either with transmitted sequences sampled very early in infection, or sequences sampled during chronic infection. Among the strongest signatures observed was an enrichment for the stable presence of histidine at position 12 at transmission and in early infection, and a recurrent loss of histidine at position 12 in chronic infection. This amino acid lies within the leader peptide of Envelope, a region of the protein that has been shown to influence envelope glycoprotein expression and virion infectivity. We show a strong association between a positively charged amino acid like histidine at position 12 in transmitted/founder viruses with more efficient trafficking of the nascent envelope polypeptide to the endoplasmic reticulum and higher steady-state glycoprotein expression compared to viruses that have a non-basic position 12 residue, a substitution that was enriched among viruses sampled from chronically infected individuals. When expressed in the context of other viral proteins, transmitted envelopes with a basic amino acid position 12 were incorporated at higher density into the virus and exhibited higher infectious titers than did non-signature envelopes. These results support the potential utility of using a computational approach to examine large viral sequence data sets for functional signatures and indicate the importance of Envelope expression levels for efficient HIV transmission.
Understanding the mechanism of infection control in elite controllers (EC) may shed light on the correlates of control of disease progression in HIV infection. However, limitations have prevented a clear understanding of the mechanisms of elite controlled infection, as these studies can only be performed at randomly selected late time points in infection, after control is achieved, and the access to tissues is limited. We report that SIVagm infection is elite-controlled in rhesus macaques (RMs) and therefore can be used as an animal model for EC HIV infection. A robust acute infection, with high levels of viral replication and dramatic mucosal CD4+ T cell depletion, similar to pathogenic HIV-1/SIV infections of humans and RMs, was followed by complete and durable control of SIVagm replication, defined as: undetectable VLs in blood and tissues beginning 72 to 90 days postinoculation (pi) and continuing at least 4 years; seroreversion; progressive recovery of mucosal CD4+ T cells, with complete recovery by 4 years pi; normal levels of T cell immune activation, proliferation, and apoptosis; and no disease progression. This “functional cure” of SIVagm infection in RMs could be reverted after 4 years of control of infection by depleting CD8 cells, which resulted in transient rebounds of VLs, thus suggesting that control may be at least in part immune mediated. Viral control was independent of MHC, partial APOBEC restriction was not involved in SIVagm control in RMs and Trim5 genotypes did not impact viral replication. This new animal model of EC lentiviral infection, in which complete control can be predicted in all cases, permits research on the early events of infection in blood and tissues, before the defining characteristics of EC are evident and when host factors are actively driving the infection towards the EC status.
A small proportion of HIV-infected patients control viral replication and disease progression in the absence of any antiretroviral treatment. Understanding the mechanisms of viral control in these elite controllers may help to identify new therapeutic approaches in order to control HIV infection. However, elite controllers are identified AFTER control is established, therefore it is difficult to identify the virus and host factors that drive the infection to the controlled status. We identified an animal model (the rhesus macaque infection with SIVagm) in which, after massive acute viral replication and CD4+ T cell depletion, SIV infection is controlled in 100% of cases during chronic infection. This “functional cure” of SIVagm infection in rhesus macaques results in a complete immune restoration after four years and can be reverted by depleting the cellular immune responses in vivo. An animal model of elite controlled lentiviral infection in which complete control can be predicted in all cases permits research on the early events of infection when host factors are actively driving the infection towards the controlled status to understand the pathogenesis of HIV/SIV infections and design of new approaches for controlling HIV infection.
Purpose of review
Improvements in sequencing approaches and robust mathematical modeling have dramatically increased information on viral genetics during acute infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection, providing unprecedented insight into viral transmission and viral/immune Interactions.
Overall viral genetic diversity is reduced significantly during mucosal transmission. Remarkably, in the vast majority of sexual transmissions this diversity is reduced to a single viral variant that establishes the initial productive clinical infection. By identifying and enumerating transmitted/founder viruses researchers can begin to define the characteristics that are necessary and sufficient for successful viral replication within a new host.
Acute HIV infection is a critical window of opportunity for vaccine and therapeutic intervention. New sequencing technologies and mathematical modeling of transmission and early evolution have provided a clearer understanding of the number of founder viruses that establish infection, the rapid generation of diversity in these viruses and the subsequent evasion of host immunity. The information gained by identifying transmitted viruses, monitoring the initial host responses to these viruses, and then identifying mechanisms of viral escape could provide better strategies for vaccine development, pre-exposure prophylaxis, microbicides or other therapeutic interventions.
HIV; SIV; viral evolution; acute infection; transmitted virus