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J Virol. Nov 1994; 68(11): 7467–7481.
PMCID: PMC237189

Genetic differences between blood- and brain-derived viral sequences from human immunodeficiency virus type 1-infected patients: evidence of conserved elements in the V3 region of the envelope protein of brain-derived sequences.


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) sequences were generated from blood and from brain tissue obtained by stereotactic biopsy from six patients undergoing a diagnostic neurosurgical procedure. Proviral DNA was directly amplified by nested PCR, and 8 to 36 clones from each sample were sequenced. Phylogenetic analysis of intrapatient envelope V3-V5 region HIV-1 DNA sequence sets revealed that brain viral sequences were clustered relative to the blood viral sequences, suggestive of tissue-specific compartmentalization of the virus in four of the six cases. In the other two cases, the blood and brain virus sequences were intermingled in the phylogenetic analyses, suggesting trafficking of virus between the two tissues. Slide-based PCR-driven in situ hybridization of two of the patients' brain biopsy samples confirmed our interpretation of the intrapatient phylogenetic analyses. Interpatient V3 region brain-derived sequence distances were significantly less than blood-derived sequence distances. Relative to the tip of the loop, the set of brain-derived viral sequences had a tendency towards negative or neutral charge compared with the set of blood-derived viral sequences. Entropy calculations were used as a measure of the variability at each position in alignments of blood and brain viral sequences. A relatively conserved set of positions were found, with a significantly lower entropy in the brain-than in the blood-derived viral sequences. These sites constitute a brain "signature pattern," or a noncontiguous set of amino acids in the V3 region conserved in viral sequences derived from brain tissue. This brain-derived signature pattern was also well preserved among isolates previously characterized in vitro as macrophage tropic. Macrophage-monocyte tropism may be the biological constraint that results in the conservation of the viral brain signature pattern.

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