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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47818. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047818. Epub 2012 Oct 24.

SIV genome-wide pyrosequencing provides a comprehensive and unbiased view of variation within and outside CD8 T lymphocyte epitopes.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, United States of America.

Abstract

Deep sequencing technology is revolutionizing our understanding of HIV/SIV evolution. It is known that acute SIV sequence variation within CD8 T lymphocyte (CD8-TL) epitopes is similar among MHC-identical animals, but we do not know whether this persists into the chronic phase. We now determine whether chronic viral variation in MHC-identical animals infected with clonal SIV is similar throughout the entire coding sequence when using a sensitive deep sequencing approach. We pyrosequenced the entire coding sequence of the SIV genome isolated from a unique cohort of four SIVmac239-infected, MHC-identical Mauritian cynomolgus macaques (MCM) 48 weeks after infection; one MCM in the cohort became an elite controller. Among the three non-controllers, we found that genome-wide sequences were similar between animals and we detected increased sequence complexity within 64% of CD8-TL epitopes when compared to Sanger sequencing methods. When we compared sequences between the MHC-matched controller and the three non-controllers, we found the viral population in the controller was less diverse and accumulated different variants than the viral populations in the non-controllers. Importantly, we found that initial PCR amplification of viral cDNA did not significantly affect the sequences detected, suggesting that data obtained by pyrosequencing PCR-amplified viral cDNA accurately represents the diversity of sequences replicating within an animal. This demonstrates that chronic sequence diversity across the entire SIV coding sequence is similar among MHC-identical animals with comparable viral loads when infected with the same clonal virus stock. Additionally, our approach to genome-wide SIV sequencing accurately reflects the diversity of sequences present in the replicating viral population. In sum, our study suggests that genome-wide pyrosequencing of immunodeficiency viruses captures a thorough and unbiased picture of sequence diversity, and may be a useful approach to employ when evaluating which sequences to include as part of a vaccine immunogen.

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