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1.  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.
doi:10.1016/j.virol.2010.09.026
PMCID: PMC3428208  PMID: 21071054
HIV-1; V3; coreceptor; tropism; X4; R5; dual; CXCR4; CCR5; CCR5 antagonist
2.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002525
PMCID: PMC3359966  PMID: 22654656
3.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002551
PMCID: PMC3297571  PMID: 22412384
4.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002321
PMCID: PMC3207887  PMID: 22072960
5.  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.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02237-10
PMCID: PMC3126132  PMID: 21289125
6.  Characterization of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Populations Containing CXCR4-Using Variants from Recently Infected Individuals 
Abstract
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.
doi:10.1089/aid.2008.0252
PMCID: PMC2827835  PMID: 19678765
7.  Vertical transmission of X4-tropic and dual-tropic HIV-1 in five Ugandan mother–infant pairs 
AIDS (London, England)  2009;23(14):1903-1908.
Background
We previously reported the existence of CXCR4-using HIV-1 in 6–14 week-old Ugandan infants. Whether these viruses were transmitted from the mother perinatally or evolved after transmission is not known. In the current study, we investigated the origin of the CXCR4-using viruses in these infants by comparing HIV-1 envelope clones from the infants to those from their mothers at or near the time of delivery.
Methods
Envelope clones were isolated from five Ugandan infant plasma samples that harbored CXCR4-using viruses, collected at the time of HIV diagnosis (four at birth, one at week 6), and from their mothers at delivery. Coreceptor usage and phylogenetic relatedness of HIV-1 populations in mother–infant pairs were analyzed in detail using the Trofile assay and sequence analysis of envelope clones, respectively.
Results
X4-tropic clones were identified in two mother–infant pairs and dual-tropic clones were found in three pairs, either alone or in combination with R5-tropic viruses. Dual-tropic clones varied in their ability to infect CXCR4-expressing cells. In each mother–infant pair, X4-tropic or dual-tropic clones shared similar phenotypic profiles and V3 sequence patterns; gp160 sequences of X4-tropic and dual-tropic clones from infants were phylogenetically indistinguishable from those of their mothers. The virus populations were phylogenetically homogenous in three infants and segregated according to coreceptor tropism in the remaining two infants.
Conclusions
This study demonstrates that X4-tropic and dual-tropic HIV-1 can be transmitted from mother to infant, before, during or shortly after delivery, and establishes vertical transmission as an important source of CXCR4-using viruses in infants.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e32832f1802
PMCID: PMC2764460  PMID: 19593079
coreceptor tropism; CXCR4; HIV; mother-to-child; transmission; X4
8.  Suppression of Dualtropic Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 by the CXCR4 Antagonist AMD3100 Is Associated with Efficiency of CXCR4 Use and Baseline Virus Composition▿  
In a phase I/II evaluation of the CXCR4 antagonist AMD3100, human immunodeficiency virus RNA levels were significantly reduced in a single study subject who harbored CXCR4 (X4)-tropic virus, but not in subjects who harbored either dual/mixed (DM)-tropic or CCR5 (R5)-tropic virus (C. W. Hendrix et al., J. Acquir. Immune Defic. Syndr. 37:1253-1262, 2004). In this study, we analyzed the envelope clones of DM-tropic virus in baseline and treated virus populations from 14 subjects. Ten subjects exhibited significant reductions in CXCR4-mediated infectivity after 10 days of AMD3100 therapy relative to baseline (X4 suppressor group), while four subjects had no reduction of CXCR4-mediated infectivity (X4 nonsuppressor group). The baseline viruses of the X4 suppressor group infected CXCR4-expressing cells less efficiently than those of the X4 nonsuppressor group. Clonal analysis indicated that the baseline viruses from the X4 suppressor group contained a higher proportion of R5-tropic variants mixed with CXCR4-using variants, while the X4 nonsuppressor group was enriched for CXCR4-using variants. AMD3100 suppressed X4-tropic variants in all subjects studied, but not all dualtropic variants. Furthermore, dualtropic variants that used CXCR4 efficiently were suppressed by AMD3100, while dualtropic variants that used CXCR4 poorly were not. This study demonstrated that AMD3100 has the ability to suppress both X4-tropic and certain dualtropic variants in vivo. The suppression of CXCR4-using variants by AMD3100 is dependent on both the tropism composition of the virus population and the efficiency of CXCR4 usage of individual variants.
doi:10.1128/AAC.01226-07
PMCID: PMC2443920  PMID: 18443125
9.  Coreceptor Tropism Can Be Influenced by Amino Acid Substitutions in the gp41 Transmembrane Subunit of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Envelope Protein▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(11):5584-5593.
Many studies have demonstrated that the third variable region (V3) of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope protein (Env) is a major determinant of coreceptor tropism. Other regions in the surface gp120 subunit of Env can modulate coreceptor tropism in a manner that is not fully understood. In this study, we evaluated the effect of env determinants outside of V3 on coreceptor usage through the analysis of (i) patient-derived env clones that differ in coreceptor tropism, (ii) chimeric env sequences, and (iii) site-directed mutants. The introduction of distinct V3 sequences from CXCR4-using clones into an R5-tropic env backbone conferred the inefficient use of CXCR4 in some but not all cases. Conversely, in many cases, X4- and dual-tropic env backbones containing the V3 sequences of R5-tropic clones retained the ability to use CXCR4, suggesting that sequences outside of the V3 regions of these CXCR4-using clones were responsible for CXCR4 use. The determinants of CXCR4 use in a set of dual-tropic env sequences with V3 sequences identical to those of R5-tropic clones mapped to the gp41 transmembrane (TM) subunit. In one case, a single-amino-acid substitution in the fusion peptide of TM was able to confer CXCR4 use; however, TM substitutions associated with CXCR4 use varied among different env sequences. These results demonstrate that sequences in TM can modulate coreceptor specificity and that env sequences other than that of V3 may facilitate efficient CXCR4-mediated entry. We hypothesize that the latter plays an important role in the transition from CCR5 to CXCR4 coreceptor use.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02676-07
PMCID: PMC2395220  PMID: 18353956
10.  Coreceptor Tropism in Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Subtype D: High Prevalence of CXCR4 Tropism and Heterogeneous Composition of Viral Populations▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(15):7885-7893.
In human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtype B, CXCR4 coreceptor use ranges from ∼20% in early infection to ∼50% in advanced disease. Coreceptor use by non-subtype B HIV is less well characterized. We studied coreceptor tropism of subtype A and D HIV-1 collected from 68 pregnant, antiretroviral drug-naive Ugandan women (HIVNET 012 trial). None of 33 subtype A or 10 A/D-recombinant viruses used the CXCR4 coreceptor. In contrast, nine (36%) of 25 subtype D viruses used both CXCR4 and CCR5 coreceptors. Clonal analyses of the nine subtype D samples with dual or mixed tropism revealed heterogeneous viral populations comprised of X4-, R5-, and dual-tropic HIV-1 variants. In five of the six samples with dual-tropic strains, V3 loop sequences of dual-tropic clones were identical to those of cocirculating R5-tropic clones, indicating the presence of CXCR4 tropism determinants outside of the V3 loop. These dual-tropic variants with R5-tropic-like V3 loops, which we designated “dual-R,” use CCR5 much more efficiently than CXCR4, in contrast to dual-tropic clones with X4-tropic-like V3 loops (“dual-X”). These observations have implications for pathogenesis and treatment of subtype D-infected individuals, for the association between V3 sequence and coreceptor tropism phenotype, and for understanding potential mechanisms of evolution from exclusive CCR5 use to efficient CXCR4 use by subtype D HIV-1.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00218-07
PMCID: PMC1951291  PMID: 17507467
11.  Development and Characterization of a Novel Single-Cycle Recombinant-Virus Assay To Determine Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Coreceptor Tropism▿  
Most human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) strains require either the CXCR4 or CCR5 chemokine receptor to efficiently enter cells. Blocking viral binding to these coreceptors is an attractive therapeutic target. Currently, several coreceptor antagonists are being evaluated in clinical trials that require characterization of coreceptor tropism for enrollment. In this report, we describe the development of an automated and accurate procedure for determining HIV-1 coreceptor tropism (Trofile) and its validation for routine laboratory testing. HIV-1 pseudoviruses are generated using full-length env genes derived from patient virus populations. Coreceptor tropism is determined by measuring the abilities of these pseudovirus populations to efficiently infect CD4+/U87 cells expressing either the CXCR4 or CCR5 coreceptor. Viruses exclusively and efficiently infecting CXCR4+/CD4+/U87 cells are designated X4-tropic. Conversely, viruses exclusively and efficiently infecting CCR5+/CD4+/U87 cells are designated R5-tropic. Viruses capable of infecting both CXCR4+/CD4+/U87 and CCR5+/CD4+/U87 cells are designated dual/mixed-tropic. Assay accuracy and reproducibility were established by evaluating the tropisms of well-characterized viruses and the variability among replicate results from samples tested repeatedly. The viral subtype, hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus coinfection, and the plasma viral load did not affect assay performance. Minority subpopulations with alternate tropisms were reliably detected when present at 5 to 10%. The plasma viral load above which samples can be amplified efficiently in the Trofile assay is 1,000 copies per ml of plasma. Trofile has been automated for high-throughput use; it can be used to identify patients most likely to benefit from treatment regimens that include a coreceptor inhibitor and to monitor patients on treatment for the emergence of resistant virus populations that switch coreceptor tropism.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00853-06
PMCID: PMC1797738  PMID: 17116663
12.  Amino Acid Substitutions at Position 190 of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Reverse Transcriptase Increase Susceptibility to Delavirdine and Impair Virus Replication 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(2):1512-1523.
Suboptimal treatment of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection with nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) often results in the rapid selection of drug-resistant virus. Several amino acid substitutions at position 190 of reverse transcriptase (RT) have been associated with reduced susceptibility to the NNRTI, especially nevirapine (NVP) and efavirenz (EFV). In the present study, the effects of various 190 substitutions observed in viruses obtained from NNRTI-experienced patients were characterized with patient-derived HIV isolates and confirmed with a panel of isogenic viruses. Compared to wild-type HIV, which has a glycine at position 190 (G190), viruses with 190 substitutions (A, C, Q, S, V, E, or T, collectively referred to as G190X substitutions) were markedly less susceptible to NVP and EFV. In contrast, delavirdine (DLV) susceptibility of these G190X viruses increased from 3 to 300-fold (hypersusceptible) or was only slightly decreased. The replication capacity of viruses with certain 190 substitutions (C, Q, V, T, and E) was severely impaired and was correlated with reduced virion-associated RT activity and incomplete protease (PR) processing of the viral p55gag polyprotein. These defects were the result of inadequate p160gagpol incorporation into virions. Compensatory mutations within RT and PR improved replication capacity, p55gag processing, and RT activity, presumably through increased incorporation of p160gagpol into virions. We observe an inverse relationship between the degree of NVP and EFV resistance and the impairment of viral replication in viruses with substitutions at 190 in RT. These observations may have important implications for the future design and development of antiretroviral drugs that restrict the outgrowth of resistant variants with high replication capacity.
doi:10.1128/JVI.77.2.1512-1523.2003
PMCID: PMC140843  PMID: 12502865
13.  Reduced Susceptibility of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) from Patients with Primary HIV Infection to Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors Is Associated with Variation at Novel Amino Acid Sites 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(22):10269-10273.
Recently, significant numbers of individuals with primary human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection have been found to harbor viral strains with reduced susceptibility to antiretroviral drugs. In one study, HIV from 16% of such antiretroviral-naive individuals was shown to have a susceptibility to nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors (NNRTIs) between 2.5- and 10-fold lower than that of a wild-type control. Mutations in the RT domain that had previously been associated with antiretroviral resistance were not shared by these strains. We have analyzed by logistic regression 46 variable amino acid sites in RT for their effect on susceptibility and have identified two novel sites influencing susceptibility to NNRTIs: amino acids 135 and 283 in RT. Eight different combinations of amino acids at these sites were observed among these patients. These combinations showed a 14-fold range in mean susceptibility to both nevirapine and delavirdine. In vitro mutagenesis of the control strain combined with a phenotypic assay confirmed the significance of amino acid variation at these sites for susceptibility to NNRTIs.
PMCID: PMC110900  PMID: 11044070
14.  A Novel Phenotypic Drug Susceptibility Assay for Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 
Although combination antiretroviral therapy has resulted in a considerable improvement in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 (HIV-1) infection, the emergence of resistant virus is a significant obstacle to the effective management of HIV infection and AIDS. We have developed a novel phenotypic drug susceptibility assay that may be useful in guiding therapy and improving long-term suppression of HIV replication. Susceptibility to protease (PR) and reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors is measured by using resistance test vectors (RTVs) that contain a luciferase indicator gene and PR and RT sequences derived from HIV-1 in patient plasma. Cells are transfected with RTV DNA, resulting in the production of virus particles that are used to infect target cells. Since RTVs are replication defective, luciferase activity is measured following a single round of replication. The assay has been automated to increase throughput and is completed in 8 to 10 days. Test results may be useful in facilitating the selection of optimal treatment regimens for patients who have failed prior therapy or drug-naive patients infected with drug-resistant virus. In addition, the assay can be used to evaluate candidate drugs and assist in the development of new drugs that are active against resistant strains of HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC89793  PMID: 10722492
15.  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).
doi:10.4061/2010/814176
PMCID: PMC2990097  PMID: 21151530

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