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J Virol. 2005 Jun;79(11):7121-34.

Differences in the fitness of two diverse wild-type human immunodeficiency virus type 1 isolates are related to the efficiency of cell binding and entry.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


The ability of one primary human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) isolate to outcompete another in primary CD4+ human lymphoid cells appears to be mediated by the efficiency of host cell entry. This study was designed to test the role of entry on fitness of wild-type HIV-1 isolates (e.g., replicative capacity) and to examine the mechanism(s) involved in differential entry efficiency. The gp120 coding regions of two diverse HIV-1 isolates (the more-fit subtype B strain, B5-91US056, and less-fit C strain, C5-97ZA003) were cloned into a neutral HIV-1 backbone by using a recently described yeast cloning technique. The fitness of the primary B5 HIV-1 isolates and its env gene cloned into the NL4-3 laboratory strain had similar fitness, and both were more fit than the C5 primary isolate and its env/NL4-3 chimeric counterpart. Increased fitness of the B5 over C5 virus was mediated by the gp120 coding region of the env gene. An increase in binding/fusion, as well as decreased sensitivity to entry inhibitors (PSC-RANTES and T-20), was observed in cell fusion assays mediated by B5 gp120 compared to C5 gp120. Competitive binding assays using a novel whole virus-cell system indicate that the primary or chimeric B5 had a higher avidity for CD4/CCR5 on host cells than the C5 counterpart. This increased avidity of an HIV-1 isolate for its cell receptors may be a significant factor influencing overall replicative capacity or fitness.

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