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J Virol. 1999 Jul;73(7):5255-64.

Variants from the diverse virus population identified at seroconversion of a clade A human immunodeficiency virus type 1-infected woman have distinct biological properties.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.


Development of effective therapeutics to prevent new infections with human immunodeficiency type 1 (HIV-1) is predicated on an understanding of the properties that provide a selective advantage to a transmitted viral population. In contrast to the homogeneous virus population that typifies early HIV-1 infection of men, the viral population in women recently infected with clade A HIV-1 is genetically diverse, based on evaluation of the envelope gene. A longitudinal study of viral envelope evolution in several women suggested that representative envelope variants detected at seroconversion had distinct biological properties that affected viral fitness. To test this hypothesis, a full-length, infectious molecular clone, Q23-17, was obtained from an infected woman 1 year following seroconversion, and chimeric viruses containing envelope genes representative of seroconversion and 27-month-postseroconversion populations were constructed. Dendritic cells (DC) could transfer infection of seroconversion variant Q23ScA, which dominated the viral population in the year following seroconversion, and the closely related 1-year isolate Q23-17 to resting peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). In contrast, resting PBMC exposed to DC pulsed with Q23ScB, which was detected infrequently in samples after seroconversion, or the 27-month chimeras were inconsistently infected. Additionally, quiescent PBMC infected with Q23ScA or Q23-17 proliferated more robustly than uninfected cells or cells infected with the other envelope chimeras in response to immobilized anti-CD3. Stimulation with tetanus toxoid led to an increased proportion of CD45RA+ cells and a decreased expression of CD28 on CD45RO+ cells in cultures of Q23-17-infected PBMC. These data demonstrate that variants from the heterogeneous seroconversion clade A HIV-1 population in a Kenyan woman have distinct biological features that may influence viral pathogenesis.

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