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1.  Evaluating the Role of Macrocycles in the Susceptibility of Hepatitis C Virus NS3/4A Protease Inhibitors to Drug Resistance 
ACS chemical biology  2013;8(7):1469-1478.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects an estimated 150 million people worldwide and is the major cause of viral hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer. The available antiviral therapies, which include pegylated-interferon, ribavirin and one of the HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitors telaprevir or boceprevir, are ineffective for some patients and cause severe side effects. More potent NS3/4A protease inhibitors are in clinical development, but the long-term effectiveness of these drugs is challenged by the development of drug resistance. Here, we investigated the role of macrocycles in the susceptibility of NS3/4A protease inhibitors to drug resistance in asunaprevir, danoprevir, vaniprevir, and MK-5172, with similar core structures but varied P2 moieties and macrocyclizations. Linear and macrocyclic analogues of these drugs were designed, synthesized and tested against wild-type and drug-resistant variants R155K, V36M/R155K, A156T, and D168A in enzymatic and antiviral assays. Macrocyclic inhibitors were generally more potent, but the location of the macrocycle was critical for retaining activity against drug-resistant variants – the P1–P3 macrocyclic inhibitors were less susceptible to drug resistance than the linear and P2–P4 macrocyclic analogues. In addition, the heterocyclic moiety at P2 largely determined the inhibitor resistance profile, susceptibility to drug resistance, and the extent of modulation by the helicase domain. Our findings suggest that to design robust inhibitors that retain potency to drug resistant NS3/4A protease variants, inhibitors should combine P1–P3 macrocycles with flexible P2 moieties that optimally contact with the invariable catalytic triad of this enzyme.
PMCID: PMC3884027  PMID: 23594083
Hepatitis C; HCV NS3/4A inhibitors; drug resistance
2.  Recombination Accelerates Adaptation on a Large-Scale Empirical Fitness Landscape in HIV-1 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(6):e1004439.
Recombination has the potential to facilitate adaptation. In spite of the substantial body of theory on the impact of recombination on the evolutionary dynamics of adapting populations, empirical evidence to test these theories is still scarce. We examined the effect of recombination on adaptation on a large-scale empirical fitness landscape in HIV-1 based on in vitro fitness measurements. Our results indicate that recombination substantially increases the rate of adaptation under a wide range of parameter values for population size, mutation rate and recombination rate. The accelerating effect of recombination is stronger for intermediate mutation rates but increases in a monotonic way with the recombination rates and population sizes that we examined. We also found that both fitness effects of individual mutations and epistatic fitness interactions cause recombination to accelerate adaptation. The estimated epistasis in the adapting populations is significantly negative. Our results highlight the importance of recombination in the evolution of HIV-I.
Author Summary
One of the most challenging issues in evolutionary biology concerns the question of why most organisms exchange genetic material with each other, e.g. during sexual reproduction. Gene shuffling can create genetic diversity that facilitates adaptation to new environments, but theory shows that this effect is highly dependent on how different genes interact in determining the fitness of an organism. Using a large data set of fitness values based on HIV-1, we provide evidence that shuffling of genetic material indeed raises the level of genetic diversity, and as a result accelerates adaptation. Our results also propose genetic shuffling as a mechanism utilized by HIV to accelerate the evolution of multi-drug-resistant strains.
PMCID: PMC4072600  PMID: 24967626
3.  Role of the K101E Substitution in HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase in Resistance to Rilpivirine and Other Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2013;57(11):5649-5657.
Resistance to the recently approved nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) rilpivirine (RPV) commonly involves substitutions at positions E138K and K101E in HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT), together with an M184I substitution that is associated with resistance to coutilized emtricitabine (FTC). Previous biochemical and virological studies have shown that compensatory interactions between substitutions E138K and M184I can restore enzyme processivity and the viral replication capacity. Structural modeling studies have also shown that disruption of the salt bridge between K101 and E138 can affect RPV binding. The current study was designed to investigate the impact of K101E, alone or in combination with E138K and/or M184I, on drug susceptibility, viral replication capacity, and enzyme function. We show here that K101E can be selected in cell culture by the NNRTIs etravirine (ETR), efavirenz (EFV), and dapivirine (DPV) as well as by RPV. Recombinant RT enzymes and viruses containing K101E, but not E138K, were highly resistant to nevirapine (NVP) and delavirdine (DLV) as well as ETR and RPV, but not EFV. The addition of K101E to E138K slightly enhanced ETR and RPV resistance compared to that obtained with E138K alone but restored susceptibility to NVP and DLV. The K101E substitution can compensate for deficits in viral replication capacity and enzyme processivity associated with M184I, while M184I can compensate for the diminished efficiency of DNA polymerization associated with K101E. The coexistence of K101E and E138K does not impair either viral replication or enzyme fitness. We conclude that K101E can play a significant role in resistance to RPV.
PMCID: PMC3811317  PMID: 24002090
4.  Predicting HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibody epitope networks using neutralization titers and a novel computational method 
BMC Bioinformatics  2014;15:77.
Recent efforts in HIV-1 vaccine design have focused on immunogens that evoke potent neutralizing antibody responses to a broad spectrum of viruses circulating worldwide. However, the development of effective vaccines will depend on the identification and characterization of the neutralizing antibodies and their epitopes. We developed bioinformatics methods to predict epitope networks and antigenic determinants using structural information, as well as corresponding genotypes and phenotypes generated by a highly sensitive and reproducible neutralization assay.
282 clonal envelope sequences from a multiclade panel of HIV-1 viruses were tested in viral neutralization assays with an array of broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs: b12, PG9,16, PGT121 - 128, PGT130 - 131, PGT135 - 137, PGT141 - 145, and PGV04). We correlated IC50 titers with the envelope sequences, and used this information to predict antibody epitope networks. Structural patches were defined as amino acid groups based on solvent-accessibility, radius, atomic depth, and interaction networks within 3D envelope models. We applied a boosted algorithm consisting of multiple machine-learning and statistical models to evaluate these patches as possible antibody epitope regions, evidenced by strong correlations with the neutralization response for each antibody.
We identified patch clusters with significant correlation to IC50 titers as sites that impact neutralization sensitivity and therefore are potentially part of the antibody binding sites. Predicted epitope networks were mostly located within the variable loops of the envelope glycoprotein (gp120), particularly in V1/V2. Site-directed mutagenesis experiments involving residues identified as epitope networks across multiple mAbs confirmed association of these residues with loss or gain of neutralization sensitivity.
Computational methods were implemented to rapidly survey protein structures and predict epitope networks associated with response to individual monoclonal antibodies, which resulted in the identification and deeper understanding of immunological hotspots targeted by broadly neutralizing HIV-1 antibodies.
PMCID: PMC3999910  PMID: 24646213
HIV-1 antibody; Thick patch analysis; Bioinformatics algorithms; Boosting algorithm; Machine learning; Neutralization; in-silico epitope mapping; Epitope networks; Structural mapping; Sequence and structure analysis
5.  Multiple Genetic Pathways Involving Amino Acid Position 143 of HIV-1 Integrase Are Preferentially Associated with Specific Secondary Amino Acid Substitutions and Confer Resistance to Raltegravir and Cross-Resistance to Elvitegravir 
Y143C,R substitutions in HIV-1 integrase define one of three primary raltegravir (RAL) resistance pathways. Here we describe clinical isolates with alternative substitutions at position 143 (Y143A, Y143G, Y143H, and Y143S [Y143A,G,H,S]) that emerge less frequently, and we compare the genotypic and phenotypic profiles of these viruses to Y143C,R viruses to reconcile the preferential selection of Y143C,R variants during RAL treatment. Integrase amino acid sequences and RAL susceptibility were characterized in 117 patient isolates submitted for drug resistance testing and contained Y143 amino acid changes. The influence of specific Y143 substitutions on RAL susceptibility and their preferential association with particular secondary substitutions were further defined by evaluating the composition of patient virus populations along with a large panel of site-directed mutants. Our observations demonstrate that the RAL resistance profiles of Y143A,G,H,S viruses and their association with specific secondary substitutions are similar to the well-established Y143C profile but distinct from the Y143R profile. Y143R viruses differ from Y143A,C,G,H,S viruses in that Y143R confers a greater reduction in RAL susceptibility as a single substitution, consistent with a lower resistance barrier. Among Y143A,C,G,H,S viruses, the higher prevalence of Y143C viruses is the result of a lower genetic barrier than that of the Y143A,G,S viruses and a lower resistance barrier than that of the Y143H viruses. In addition, Y143A,C,G,H,S viruses require multiple secondary substitutions to develop large reductions in RAL susceptibility. Patient-derived viruses containing Y143 substitutions exhibit cross-resistance to elvitegravir.
PMCID: PMC3754334  PMID: 23733474
6.  HER3, p95HER2, and HER2 protein expression levels define multiple subtypes of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer 
Trastuzumab is effective in the treatment of HER2/neu over-expressing breast cancer, but not all patients benefit from it. In vitro data suggest a role for HER3 in the initiation of signaling activity involving the AKT–mTOR pathway leading to trastuzumab insensitivity. We sought to investigate the potential of HER3 alone and in the context of p95HER2 (p95), a trastuzumab resistance marker, as biomarkers of trastuzumab escape. Using the VeraTag® assay platform, we developed a dual antibody proximity-based assay for the precise quantitation of HER3 total protein (H3T) from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) breast tumors. We then measured H3T in 89 patients with metastatic breast cancer treated with trastuzumab-based therapy, and correlated the results with progression-free survival and overall survival using Kaplan–Meier and decision tree analyses that also included HER2 total (H2T) and p95 expression levels. Within the sub-population of patients that over-expressed HER2, high levels of HER3 and/or p95 protein expression were significantly associated with poor clinical outcomes on trastuzumab-based therapy. Based on quantitative H3T, p95, and H2T measurements, multiple subtypes of HER2-positive breast cancer were identified that differ in their outcome following trastuzumab therapy. These data suggest that HER3 and p95 are informative biomarkers of clinical outcomes on trastuzumab therapy, and that multiple subtypes of HER2-positive breast cancer may be defined by quantitative measurements of H3T, p95, and H2T.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10549-013-2665-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3758835  PMID: 23959396
Breast cancer; HER2; HER3; p95HER2; Trastuzumab
7.  Novel Method To Assess Antiretroviral Target Trough Concentrations Using In Vitro Susceptibility Data 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2012;56(11):5938-5945.
Durable suppression of HIV-1 replication requires the establishment of antiretroviral drug concentrations that exceed the susceptibility of the virus strain(s) infecting the patient. Minimum plasma drug concentrations (Ctrough) are correlated with response, but determination of target Ctrough values is hindered by a paucity of in vivo concentration-response data. In the absence of these data, in vitro susceptibility measurements, adjusted for serum protein binding, can provide estimations of suppressive in vivo drug concentrations. We derived serum protein binding correction factors (PBCF) for protease inhibitors, nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, and an integrase inhibitor by measuring the effect of a range of human serum concentrations on in vitro drug susceptibility measured with the PhenoSense HIV assay. PBCFs corresponding to 100% HS were extrapolated using linear regression and ranged from 1.4 for nevirapine to 77 for nelfinavir. Using the mean 95% inhibitory concentration (IC95) for ≥1,200 drug-susceptible viruses, we calculated protein-bound IC95 (PBIC95) values. PBIC95 values were concordant with the minimum effective Ctrough values that were established in well-designed pharmacodynamic studies (e.g., indinavir, saquinavir, and amprenavir). In other cases, the PBIC95 values were notably lower (e.g., darunavir, efavirenz, and nevirapine) or higher (nelfinavir and etravirine) than existing target recommendations. The establishment of PBIC95 values as described here provides a convenient and standardized approach for estimation of the minimum drug exposure that is required to maintain viral suppression and prevent the emergence of drug-resistant variants, particularly when in vivo concentration-response relationships are lacking.
PMCID: PMC3486606  PMID: 22964257
8.  Viral fitness cost prevents HIV-1 from evading dolutegravir drug pressure 
Retrovirology  2013;10:22.
Clinical studies have shown that integrase strand transfer inhibitors can be used to treat HIV-1 infection. Although the first-generation integrase inhibitors are susceptible to the emergence of resistance mutations that impair their efficacy in therapy, such resistance has not been identified to date in drug-naïve patients who have been treated with the second-generation inhibitor dolutegravir. During previous in vitro selection study, we identified a R263K mutation as the most common substitution to arise in the presence of dolutegravir with H51Y arising as a secondary mutation. Additional experiments reported here provide a plausible explanation for the absence of reported dolutegravir resistance among integrase inhibitor-naïve patients to date.
We now show that H51Y in combination with R263K increases resistance to dolutegravir but is accompanied by dramatic decreases in both enzymatic activity and viral replication.
Since H51Y and R263K may define a unique resistance pathway to dolutegravir, our results are consistent with the absence of resistance mutations in antiretroviral drug-naive patients treated with this drug.
PMCID: PMC3598531  PMID: 23432922
HIV integrase; Dolutegravir; Resistance to antiretrovirals; Viral fitness; Strand-transfer assay
9.  Substitutions at Amino Acid Positions 143, 148, and 155 of HIV-1 Integrase Define Distinct Genetic Barriers to Raltegravir Resistance In Vivo 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(13):7249-7255.
Mutations at amino acids 143, 148, and 155 in HIV-1 integrase (IN) define primary resistance pathways in subjects failing raltegravir (RAL)-containing treatments. Although each pathway appears to be genetically distinct, shifts in the predominant resistant virus population have been reported under continued drug pressure. To better understand this dynamic, we characterized the RAL susceptibility of 200 resistant viruses, and we performed sequential clonal analysis for selected cases. Patient viruses containing Y143R, Q148R, or Q148H mutations consistently exhibited larger reductions in RAL susceptibility than patient viruses containing N155H mutations. Sequential analyses of virus populations from three subjects revealed temporal shifts in subpopulations representing N155H, Y143R, or Q148H escape pathways. Evaluation of molecular clones isolated from different time points demonstrated that Y143R and Q148H variants exhibited larger reductions in RAL susceptibility and higher IN-mediated replication capacity (RC) than N155H variants within the same subject. Furthermore, shifts from the N155H pathway to either the Q148R or H pathway or the Y143R pathway were dependent on the amino acid substitution at position 148 and the secondary mutations in Y143R- or Q148R- or H-containing variants and correlated with reductions in RAL susceptibility and restorations in RC. Our observations in patient viruses were confirmed by analyzing site-directed mutations. In summary, viruses that acquire mutations defining the 143 or 148 escape pathways are less susceptible to RAL and exhibit greater RC than viruses containing 155 pathway mutations. These selective pressures result in the displacement of N155H variants by 143 or 148 variants under continued drug exposure.
PMCID: PMC3416338  PMID: 22553340
10.  Mutational Pathways and Genetic Barriers to CXCR4-Mediated Entry by Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 
Virology  2010;409(2):308-318.
To examine mutational pathways that lead to CXCR4 use of HIV-1, we analyzed the genotypic and phenotypic characteristics of envelope sequences from a large panel of patient virus populations and individual clones containing different V3 mutations. Basic amino acid substitutions at position 11 were strong determinants of CXCR4-mediated entry, but required multiple compensatory mutations to overcome associated reductions in infectivity. In contrast, basic amino acid substitutions at position 25, or substitutions at position 6–8 resulting in the loss of a potential N-linked glycosylation site, contributed to CXCR4-mediated entry, but required additional substitutions acting cooperatively to confer efficient CXCR4 use. Our assumptions, based upon examination of patient viruses, were largely confirmed by characterizing the coreceptor utilization of five distinct panels of isogenic envelope sequences containing V3 amino acid substitutions introduced by site-directed mutagenesis. These results further define the mutational pathways leading to CXCR4 use and their associated genetic barriers.
PMCID: PMC3428208  PMID: 21071054
HIV-1; V3; coreceptor; tropism; X4; R5; dual; CXCR4; CCR5; CCR5 antagonist
11.  The Molecular Basis of Drug Resistance against Hepatitis C Virus NS3/4A Protease Inhibitors 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(7):e1002832.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects over 170 million people worldwide and is the leading cause of chronic liver diseases, including cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. Available antiviral therapies cause severe side effects and are effective only for a subset of patients, though treatment outcomes have recently been improved by the combination therapy now including boceprevir and telaprevir, which inhibit the viral NS3/4A protease. Despite extensive efforts to develop more potent next-generation protease inhibitors, however, the long-term efficacy of this drug class is challenged by the rapid emergence of resistance. Single-site mutations at protease residues R155, A156 and D168 confer resistance to nearly all inhibitors in clinical development. Thus, developing the next-generation of drugs that retain activity against a broader spectrum of resistant viral variants requires a comprehensive understanding of the molecular basis of drug resistance. In this study, 16 high-resolution crystal structures of four representative protease inhibitors – telaprevir, danoprevir, vaniprevir and MK-5172 – in complex with the wild-type protease and three major drug-resistant variants R155K, A156T and D168A, reveal unique molecular underpinnings of resistance to each drug. The drugs exhibit differential susceptibilities to these protease variants in both enzymatic and antiviral assays. Telaprevir, danoprevir and vaniprevir interact directly with sites that confer resistance upon mutation, while MK-5172 interacts in a unique conformation with the catalytic triad. This novel mode of MK-5172 binding explains its retained potency against two multi-drug-resistant variants, R155K and D168A. These findings define the molecular basis of HCV N3/4A protease inhibitor resistance and provide potential strategies for designing robust therapies against this rapidly evolving virus.
Author Summary
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects over 170 million people worldwide and is the leading cause of chronic liver diseases, including cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. New classes of directly-acting antiviral agents that target various HCV enzymes are being developed. Two such drugs that target the essential HCV NS3/4A protease are approved by the FDA and several others are at various stages of clinical development. These drugs, when used in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin, significantly improve treatment outcomes. However HCV evolves very quickly and drug resistance develops against directly-acting antiviral agents. Thus, despite the therapeutic success of NS3/4A protease inhibitors, their long-term effectiveness is challenged by drug resistance. Our study explains in atomic detail how and why drug resistance occurs for four chemically representative protease inhibitors –telaprevir, danoprevir, vaniprevir and MK-5172. Potentially with this knowledge, new drugs could be developed that are less susceptible to drug resistance. More generally, understanding the underlying mechanisms by which drug resistance occurs can be incorporated in drug development to many quickly evolving diseases.
PMCID: PMC3406087  PMID: 22910833
12.  Estimating the Fitness Cost of Escape from HLA Presentation in HIV-1 Protease and Reverse Transcriptase 
PLoS Computational Biology  2012;8(5):e1002525.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) is, like most pathogens, under selective pressure to escape the immune system of its host. In particular, HIV-1 can avoid recognition by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) by altering the binding affinity of viral peptides to human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules, the role of which is to present those peptides to the immune system. It is generally assumed that HLA escape mutations carry a replicative fitness cost, but these costs have not been quantified. In this study, we assess the replicative cost of mutations which are likely to escape presentation by HLA molecules in the region of HIV-1 protease and reverse transcriptase. Specifically, we combine computational approaches for prediction of in vitro replicative fitness and peptide binding affinity to HLA molecules. We find that mutations which impair binding to HLA-A molecules tend to have lower in vitro replicative fitness than mutations which do not impair binding to HLA-A molecules, suggesting that HLA-A escape mutations carry higher fitness costs than non-escape mutations. We argue that the association between fitness and HLA-A binding impairment is probably due to an intrinsic cost of escape from HLA-A molecules, and these costs are particularly strong for HLA-A alleles associated with efficient virus control. Counter-intuitively, we do not observe a significant effect in the case of HLA-B, but, as discussed, this does not argue against the relevance of HLA-B in virus control. Overall, this article points to the intriguing possibility that HLA-A molecules preferentially target more conserved regions of HIV-1, emphasizing the importance of HLA-A genes in the evolution of HIV-1 and RNA viruses in general.
Author Summary
Our immune system can recognize and kill virus-infected cells by distinguishing between self and virus-derived protein fragments, called peptides, displayed on the surface of each cell. One requirement for a successful recognition is that those peptides bind to the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules, which present them to the immune system. As a counter-strategy, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) can acquire mutations that prevent this binding, thereby helping the virus to escape the surveillance of T-lymphocytes. It is likely that the virus pays a replicative cost for such escape mutations, but the magnitude of this cost has remained elusive. Here, we quantified this fitness cost in HIV-1 protease and reverse transcriptase by combining two computational systems biology approaches: one for prediction of in vitro replicative fitness, and one for the prediction of the efficiency of peptide binding to HLA. We found that in viral proteins targeted by HLA-A molecules, mutations which disrupt binding to those molecules carry a lower replicative fitness than mutations which do not have such an effect. We argue that these results are consistent with the hypothesis that our immune systems might have evolved to target genetic regions of RNA viruses which are costly for the pathogen to alter.
PMCID: PMC3359966  PMID: 22654656
13.  Exploring the Complexity of the HIV-1 Fitness Landscape 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(3):e1002551.
Although fitness landscapes are central to evolutionary theory, so far no biologically realistic examples for large-scale fitness landscapes have been described. Most currently available biological examples are restricted to very few loci or alleles and therefore do not capture the high dimensionality characteristic of real fitness landscapes. Here we analyze large-scale fitness landscapes that are based on predictive models for in vitro replicative fitness of HIV-1. We find that these landscapes are characterized by large correlation lengths, considerable neutrality, and high ruggedness and that these properties depend only weakly on whether fitness is measured in the absence or presence of different antiretrovirals. Accordingly, adaptive processes on these landscapes depend sensitively on the initial conditions. While the relative extent to which mutations affect fitness on their own (main effects) or in combination with other mutations (epistasis) is a strong determinant of these properties, the fitness landscape of HIV-1 is considerably less rugged, less neutral, and more correlated than expected from the distribution of main effects and epistatic interactions alone. Overall this study confirms theoretical conjectures about the complexity of biological fitness landscapes and the importance of the high dimensionality of the genetic space in which adaptation takes place.
Author Summary
Evolutionary adaptation can be understood as populations moving uphill on landscapes, in which height corresponds to evolutionary fitness. Although such fitness landscapes are central to evolutionary theory, there is currently a lack of biologically realistic examples. Here we analyze large-scale fitness landscapes derived from in vitro fitness measurements of HIV-1. We find that these landscapes are very rugged and that, accordingly, adaptive processes on these landscapes depend sensitively on the initial conditions. Moreover, the landscapes contain large networks along which fitness changes only minimally. While the relative extent to which mutations affect fitness on their own or in combination with other mutations is a strong determinant of these properties, the fitness landscape of HIV-1 is considerably less rugged than expected from the individual and pair-wise effects of mutations. Overall this study confirms theoretical conjectures about the complexity of biological fitness landscapes and the importance of the high dimensionality of the genetic space in which adaptation takes place.
PMCID: PMC3297571  PMID: 22412384
14.  Connection Domain Mutations in HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase Do Not Impact Etravirine Susceptibility and Virologic Responses to Etravirine-Containing Regimens▿† 
Connection domain mutations (CDMs) in HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) alter susceptibility to some nucleoside/nonnucleoside RT inhibitors (NRTIs/NNRTIs). Their effects on susceptibility and virologic responses to etravirine were analyzed. Seventeen CDMs were evaluated: L283I, E312Q, G333D, G333E, G335C, G335D, N348I, A360I, A360T, A360V, V365I, T369I, A371V, A376S, I393L, E399D, and E399G. CDM prevalence and effects on virologic responses were analyzed retrospectively using clinical data. The effects on etravirine susceptibility were assessed in clinical samples and confirmed using site-directed mutants. The most prevalent CDMs (>10%) were A371V, E399D, A376S, N348I, A360T, G333E, and L283I. CDM presence was positively correlated with thymidine analogue-associated mutations, but not with NNRTI resistance-associated mutations (RAMs). The presence or number of CDMs did not significantly reduce etravirine susceptibility, although small reductions were seen in samples with G333D, N348I, A360V, T369I, and A376S. N348I, E399G, and N348I/T369I were associated with reduced etravirine susceptibility when present with K103N, L100I, or Y181C. N348I or T369I was associated with reduced etravirine susceptibility when present with K101P or K103R/V179D. Virologic responses to an etravirine-containing regimen were slightly diminished when G333D, G335D, or A376S was present, but this was not confirmed in subgroups with higher baseline resistance or without etravirine RAMs. CDMs alone do not confer substantial reductions in etravirine susceptibility but can further reduce etravirine susceptibility in combination with certain NNRTI mutations. Since virologic responses to etravirine were not affected by CDMs, the clinical impacts of these mutations on etravirine susceptibility appear to be minimal.
PMCID: PMC3101386  PMID: 21464253
15.  Assessing Predicted HIV-1 Replicative Capacity in a Clinical Setting 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(11):e1002321.
HIV-1 replicative capacity (RC) provides a measure of within-host fitness and is determined in the context of phenotypic drug resistance testing. However it is unclear how these in-vitro measurements relate to in-vivo processes. Here we assess RCs in a clinical setting by combining a previously published machine-learning tool, which predicts RC values from partial pol sequences with genotypic and clinical data from the Swiss HIV Cohort Study. The machine-learning tool is based on a training set consisting of 65000 RC measurements paired with their corresponding partial pol sequences. We find that predicted RC values (pRCs) correlate significantly with the virus load measured in 2073 infected but drug naïve individuals. Furthermore, we find that, for 53 pairs of sequences, each pair sampled in the same infected individual, the pRC was significantly higher for the sequence sampled later in the infection and that the increase in pRC was also significantly correlated with the increase in plasma viral load and with the length of the time-interval between the sampling points. These findings indicate that selection within a patient favors the evolution of higher replicative capacities and that these in-vitro fitness measures are indicative of in-vivo HIV virus load.
Author Summary
Determining how well different genotypes of HIV can replicate within a patient is central for our understanding of the evolution of HIV. Such in vivo fitness is often approximated by in vitro measurements of viral replicative capacities. Here we use a machine-learning algorithm to predict in vitro replicative capacities from HIV nucleotide sequences and compare these predicted replicative capacities with clinical data from HIV-infected individuals. We find that predicted replicative capacity correlates significantly with the concentration of HIV RNA in the plasma of infected individuals (virus load). Furthermore, we show that the predicted replicative capacity increases in the course of an infection. Finally, we found that the temporal increase of replicative capacity correlates significantly with the temporal increase of virus load within a patient. These results indicate that (predicted) replicative capacity is a useful measure for viral fitness and suggest that virus genetics determines virus load at least to some extent via replicative capacity.
PMCID: PMC3207887  PMID: 22072960
16.  Loss of Asparagine-Linked Glycosylation Sites in Variable Region 5 of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Envelope Is Associated with Resistance to CD4 Antibody Ibalizumab ▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(8):3872-3880.
Ibalizumab (formerly TNX-355) is a first-in-class, monoclonal antibody inhibitor of CD4-mediated human immunodeficiency type 1 (HIV-1) entry. Multiple clinical trials with HIV-infected patients have demonstrated the antiviral activity, safety, and tolerability of ibalizumab treatment. A 9-week phase Ib study adding ibalizumab monotherapy to failing drug regimens led to transient reductions in HIV viral loads and the evolution of HIV-1 variants with reduced susceptibility to ibalizumab. This report characterizes these variants by comparing the phenotypic susceptibilities and envelope (env) sequences of (i) paired baseline and on-treatment virus populations, (ii) individual env clones from selected paired samples, and (iii) env clones containing site-directed mutations. Viruses with reduced susceptibility to ibalizumab were found to exhibit reduced susceptibility to the anti-CD4 antibody RPA-T4. Conversely, susceptibility to soluble CD4, which targets the HIV-1 gp120 envelope protein, was enhanced. No changes in susceptibility to the fusion inhibitor enfuvirtide or the CCR5 antagonist maraviroc were observed. Functionally, viruses with reduced ibalizumab susceptibility also displayed high levels of infectivity relative to those of paired baseline viruses. Individual env clones exhibiting reduced ibalizumab susceptibility contained multiple amino acid changes in different regions relative to the paired baseline clones. In particular, clones with reduced susceptibility to ibalizumab contained fewer potential asparagine-linked glycosylation sites (PNGSs) in variable region 5 (V5) than did paired ibalizumab-susceptible clones. The reduction in ibalizumab susceptibility due to the loss of V5 PNGSs was confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis. Taken together, these findings provide important insights into resistance to this new class of antiretroviral drug.
PMCID: PMC3126132  PMID: 21289125
17.  A Directed Molecular Evolution Approach to Improved Immunogenicity of the HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20927.
A prophylactic vaccine is needed to slow the spread of HIV-1 infection. Optimization of the wild-type envelope glycoproteins to create immunogens that can elicit effective neutralizing antibodies is a high priority. Starting with ten genes encoding subtype B HIV-1 gp120 envelope glycoproteins and using in vitro homologous DNA recombination, we created chimeric gp120 variants that were screened for their ability to bind neutralizing monoclonal antibodies. Hundreds of variants were identified with novel antigenic phenotypes that exhibit considerable sequence diversity. Immunization of rabbits with these gp120 variants demonstrated that the majority can induce neutralizing antibodies to HIV-1. One novel variant, called ST-008, induced significantly improved neutralizing antibody responses when assayed against a large panel of primary HIV-1 isolates. Further study of various deletion constructs of ST-008 showed that the enhanced immunogenicity results from a combination of effective DNA priming, an enhanced V3-based response, and an improved response to the constant backbone sequences.
PMCID: PMC3126809  PMID: 21738594
18.  Detection of Inferred CCR5- and CXCR4-Using HIV-1 Variants and Evolutionary Intermediates Using Ultra-Deep Pyrosequencing 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(6):e1002106.
The emergence of CXCR4-using human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) variants is associated with accelerated disease progression. CXCR4-using variants are believed to evolve from CCR5-using variants, but due to the extremely low frequency at which transitional intermediate variants are often present, the kinetics and mutational pathways involved in this process have been difficult to study and are therefore poorly understood. Here, we used ultra-deep sequencing of the V3 loop of the viral envelope in combination with the V3-based coreceptor prediction tools PSSMNSI/SI and geno2pheno[coreceptor] to detect HIV-1 variants during the transition from CCR5- to CXCR4-usage. We analyzed PBMC and serum samples obtained from eight HIV-1-infected individuals at three-month intervals up to one year prior to the first phenotypic detection of CXCR4-using variants in the MT-2 assay. Between 3,482 and 10,521 reads were generated from each sample. In all individuals, V3 sequences of predicted CXCR4-using HIV-1 were detected at least three months prior to phenotypic detection of CXCR4-using variants in the MT-2 assay. Subsequent analysis of the genetic relationships of these V3 sequences using minimum spanning trees revealed that the transition in coreceptor usage followed a stepwise mutational pathway involving sequential intermediate variants, which were generally present at relatively low frequencies compared to the major predicted CCR5- and CXCR4-using variants. In addition, we observed differences between individuals with respect to the number of predicted CXCR4-using variants, the diversity among major predicted CCR5-using variants, and the presence or absence of intermediate variants with discordant phenotype predictions. These results provide the first detailed description of the mutational pathways in V3 during the transition from CCR5- to CXCR4-usage in natural HIV-1 infection.
Author Summary
The first step in the infection of a target cell by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is binding of the envelope spike to its receptor CD4 and a coreceptor on the cellular surface. HIV-1 variants present early in the course of infection mainly use the coreceptor CCR5, while virus variants that use CXCR4 can appear later in infection. This change in coreceptor usage is associated with mutations in the third variable (V3) loop of the envelope spike, but has been difficult to study due to the low presence of intermediate variants. Using ultra-deep sequencing, we obtained thousands of sequences of the V3 loop from HIV-1 infected individuals in the year before CXCR4-using variants were first detected, including sequences from almost all intermediate variants. We show that mutations are introduced sequentially in the V3 loop during the evolution from CCR5- to CXCR4-usage. Furthermore, we describe differences and similarities between HIV-1-infected individuals that are related to this change in coreceptor usage, which provides the first detailed overview of this evolutionary process during natural HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC3121885  PMID: 21731496
19.  Immune Escape Mutations Detected within HIV-1 Epitopes Associated with Viral Control During Treatment Interruption 
We analyzed immune responses in chronically HIV-infected individuals who took part in a treatment interruption (TI) trial designed for patients who initiated anti-retroviral therapy within 6 months of seroconversion. In the two subjects that exhibited the best viral control, we detected CD8+ T cell responses against 1-2 Gag epitopes during the early weeks of TI and a subsequent increase in the number of epitopes recognized by the later time points. Each of these subjects developed mutations within the epitopes targeted by the highest magnitude responses. In the subject with the worst viral control, we detected responses against two Gag epitopes throughout the entire TI and no Gag mutations. The magnitude of these responses increased dramatically with time, greatly exceeding those detected in the virologic controllers. The highest levels of contemporaneous autologous neutralizing antibody activity were detected in the virologic controllers, and a subsequent escape mutation developed within the envelope gene of one controller that abrogated the response. These data suggest that immune escape mutations are a sign of viral control during TI, and that the absence of immune escape mutations in the presence of high-levels of viral replication indicates the lack of an effective host immune response.
PMCID: PMC2843510  PMID: 19910798
20.  Effect of Trimerization Motifs on Quaternary Structure, Antigenicity, and Immunogenicity of a Non-cleavable HIV-1 gp140 Envelope Glycoprotein 
Virology  2009;395(1):33-44.
The external domains of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (gp120 and the gp41 ectodomain, collectively known as gp140) contain all known viral neutralization epitopes. Various strategies have been used to create soluble trimers of the envelope to mimic the structure of the native viral protein, including mutation of the gp120-gp41 cleavage site, introduction of disulfide bonds, and fusion to heterologous trimerization motifs. We compared the effects on quaternary structure, antigenicity, and immunogenicity of three such motifs: T4 fibritin, a GCN4 variant, and the E. coli aspartate transcarbamoylase catalytic subunit. Fusion of each motif to the C-terminus of a non-cleavable JRCSF gp140(-) envelope protein led to enhanced trimerization but had limited effects on the antigenic profile and CD4 binding ability of the trimers. Immunization of rabbits provided no evidence that the trimerized gp140(-) constructs induced significantly improved neutralizing antibodies to several HIV-1 pseudoviruses, compared to gp140 lacking a trimerization motif. However, modest differences in both binding specificity and neutralizing antibody responses were observed among the various immunogens.
PMCID: PMC2801758  PMID: 19815247
Vaccine; HIV-1; Envelope; trimerization motifs; ATCase; T4 fibritin; GCN; CD4; monoclonal antibody; immunization; neutralizing antibody
21.  Combinations of Mutations in the Connection Domain of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Reverse Transcriptase: Assessing the Impact on Nucleoside and Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor Resistance▿  
Recent reports have described the effect of mutations in the connection and RNase H domains of reverse transcriptase (RT) on nucleoside and nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI and NNRTI, respectively) resistance in the presence of thymidine analog resistance mutations (TAMs) and NNRTI mutations (J. H. Brehm, D. Koontz, J. D. Meteer, V. Pathak, N. Sluis-Cremer, and J. W. Mellors, J. Virol. 81:7852-7859, 2007; K. A. Delviks-Frankenberry, G. N. Nikolenko, R. Barr, and V. K. Pathak, J. Virol. 81:6837-6845, 2007; G. N. Nikolenko, K. A. Delviks-Frankenberry, S. Palmer, F. Maldarelli, M. J. Fivash, Jr., J. M. Coffin, and V. K. Pathak, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 104:317-322, 2007; G. N. Nikolenko, S. Palmer, F. Maldarelli, J. W. Mellors, J. M. Coffin, and V. K. Pathak, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 102:2093-2098, 2005; and S. H. Yap, C. W. Sheen, J. Fahey, M. Zanin, D. Tyssen, V. D. Lima, B. Wynhoven, M. Kuiper, N. Sluis-Cremer, P. R. Harrigan, and G. Tachedjian, PLoS Med. 4:e335, 2007). In the present study, novel mutations in the connection domain of RT (T369I/V), first identified in patient-derived viruses, were characterized, and their effects on NNRTI and NNRTI susceptibility were determined. Furthermore, the effect of N348I on NRTI and NNRTI resistance was confirmed. HIV-1 with either N348I or T369I/V demonstrated reduced susceptibility to nevirapine (NVP), efavirenz (EFV), delaviridine (DLV), and zidovudine (ZDV) compared to wild-type HIV-1. However, HIV-1 with T369I and N348I demonstrated 10- to 60-fold resistance to these same drugs. In clinical samples, these two connection domain RT mutations were predominantly observed in viruses containing TAMs and NNRTI mutations and did not alter the susceptible-resistant classifications of these samples. Introduction of T369I, N348I, or T369I/N348I also reduced replication capacity (RC). These observations suggest that it may be of scientific interest to test these mutations against new NNRTI candidates.
PMCID: PMC2863632  PMID: 20194692
22.  Characterization of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Populations Containing CXCR4-Using Variants from Recently Infected Individuals 
We screened 150 individuals from two recent seroconverter cohorts and found that six (4%) had CXCR4-using viruses. Clonal analysis of these six individuals, along with a seventh individual identified during clinical care as a recent seroconverter, revealed the presence of both X4- and dual-tropic variants in these recently infected adults. The ability of individual CXCR4-using variants to infect cells expressing CD4/CXCR4 or CD4/CCR5 varied dramatically. These data demonstrate that virus populations in some newly infected individuals can consist of either heterogeneous populations containing both CXCR4-using and CCR5-tropic viruses, or homogeneous populations containing only CXCR4-using viruses. The presence of CXCR4-using viruses at early stages of infection suggests that testing for viral tropism before using CCR5 antagonists may be important even in persons with known recent infection. The presence of CXCR4-using viruses in a subset of newly infected individuals could impact the efficacies of vaccine and microbicide strategies that target CCR5-tropic viruses.
PMCID: PMC2827835  PMID: 19678765
23.  Analytical Validation of a Highly Quantitative, Sensitive, Accurate, and Reproducible Assay (HERmark®) for the Measurement of HER2 Total Protein and HER2 Homodimers in FFPE Breast Cancer Tumor Specimens 
We report here the results of the analytical validation of assays that measure HER2 total protein (H2T) and HER2 homodimer (H2D) expression in Formalin Fixed Paraffin Embedded (FFPE) breast cancer tumors as well as cell line controls. The assays are based on the VeraTag technology platform and are commercially available through a central CAP-accredited clinical reference laboratory. The accuracy of H2T measurements spans a broad dynamic range (2-3 logs) as evaluated by comparison with cross-validating technologies. The measurement of H2T expression demonstrates a sensitivity that is approximately 7–10 times greater than conventional immunohistochemistry (IHC) (HercepTest). The HERmark assay is a quantitative assay that sensitively and reproducibly measures continuous H2T and H2D protein expression levels and therefore may have the potential to stratify patients more accurately with respect to response to HER2-targeted therapies than current methods which rely on semiquantitative protein measurements (IHC) or on indirect assessments of gene amplification (FISH).
PMCID: PMC2990097  PMID: 21151530
24.  Loss of Raltegravir Susceptibility by Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Is Conferred via Multiple Nonoverlapping Genetic Pathways▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(22):11440-11446.
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) integrase mutations N155H and Q148R(H)(K) that reduce susceptibility to the integrase inhibitor raltegravir have been identified in patients failing treatment regimens containing raltegravir. Whether these resistance mutations occur individually or in combination within a single virus genome has not been defined, nor do we fully understand the impact of these primary mutations and other secondary mutations on raltegravir susceptibility and viral replication capacity. To address these important questions, we investigated the raltegravir susceptibility and replication capacity of viruses containing mutations at positions 155 and 148 separately or in combination with secondary mutations selected in subjects failing treatment regimens containing raltegravir. Clonal analysis demonstrated that N155H and Q148R(H)(K) occur independently, not in combination. Viruses containing a Q148R(H)(K) mutation generally displayed larger reductions in raltegravir susceptibility than viruses with an N155H mutation. Analysis of site-directed mutants indicated that E92Q in combination with N155H resulted in a higher level of resistance to raltegravir than N155H alone. Viruses containing a Q148R(H) mutation together with a G140S mutation were more resistant to raltegravir than viruses containing a Q148R(H) mutation alone; however, viruses containing G140S and Q148K were more susceptible to raltegravir than viruses containing a Q148K mutation alone. Both N155H and Q148R(H)(K) mutations reduced the replication capacity, while the addition of secondary mutations either improved or reduced the replication capacity depending on the primary mutation. This study demonstrates distinct genetic pathways to resistance in subjects failing raltegravir regimens and defines the effects of primary and secondary resistance mutations on raltegravir susceptibility and replication capacity.
PMCID: PMC2772690  PMID: 19759152
25.  Comparison of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Tropism Profiles in Clinical Samples by the Trofile and MT-2 Assays▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2009;53(11):4686-4693.
The recent availability of CCR5 antagonists as anti-human immunodeficiency virus (anti-HIV) therapeutics has highlighted the need to accurately identify CXCR4-using variants in patient samples when use of this new drug class is considered. The Trofile assay (Monogram Biosciences) has become the method that is the most widely used to define tropism in the clinic prior to the use of a CCR5 antagonist. By comparison, the MT-2 assay has been used since early in the HIV epidemic to define tropism in clinical specimens. Given that there are few data from direct comparisons of these two assays, we evaluated the performance of the plasma-based Trofile assay and the peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC)-based MT-2 assay for the detection of CXCR4 use in defining the tropism of HIV isolates derived from clinical samples. The various samples used for this comparison were derived from participants of the Amsterdam Cohort Studies on HIV infection and AIDS who underwent consecutive MT-2 assay testing of their PBMCs at approximately 3-month intervals. This unique sample set was specifically selected because consecutive MT-2 assays had demonstrated a shift from negative to positive in PBMCs, reflecting the first emergence of CXCR4-using virus in PBMCs above the level of detection of the assay in these individuals. Trofile testing was performed with clonal HIV type 1 (HIV-1) variants (n = 21), MT-2 cell culture-derived cells (n = 20) and supernatants (n = 42), and plasma samples (n = 76). Among the clonal HIV-1 variants and MT-2 cell culture-derived samples, the results of the Trofile and MT-2 assays demonstrated a high degree of concordance (95% to 98%). Among consecutive plasma samples, detection of CXCR4-using virus was at or before the time of first detection by the MT-2 assay in 5/10 patients by the original Trofile assay and in 9/10 patients by the enhanced-sensitivity Trofile assay. Differences in the time to the first detection of CXCR4 use between the MT-2 assay (PBMCs) and the original Trofile assay (plasma) were greatly reduced by the enhanced-sensitivity Trofile assay, suggesting that sensitivity for the detection of minor CXCR4-using variants may be a more important determinant of discordant findings than compartmentalization. The similarities in performance of the enhanced-sensitivity Trofile and MT-2 assays suggest that either may be an appropriate methodology to define tropism in patient specimens.
PMCID: PMC2772338  PMID: 19687240

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