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Microbes Infect. 2000 Apr;2(4):353-7.

Genetic heterogeneity of HIV-1 in Greece.

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Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece.


The aim of this study was to detect and determine the genetic variation of HIV-1 in Greece and to analyze the phylogenetic relationships and transmission dynamics of identified variants. Eighty-six blood samples from HIV-1 seroconverted patients of different risk groups were collected from the AIDS clinic, AHEPA Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece. Retroviral DNA was extracted from uncultured peripheral blood mononuclear cells. HIV-1 DNA sequences encoding a 500-bp fragment of the gp120 C2-C3 region were amplified from each study subject, and they were genetically subtyped by heteroduplex mobility assay and DNA sequencing. Genetic distances and phylogenetic relationships of DNA sequences were estimated using PHYLIP software. Our results revealed that 82 out of 86 (95.3%) subjects carried subtype B sequences, while four (4.7%) carried subtype A sequences. Subtype A in Greek individuals not having traveled abroad was documented. An average of intrasubtype B genetic divergence of 15% was noted. Our findings demonstrate the presence of at least two genetic subtypes of HIV-1 in northern Greece--subtype B and subtype A. The predominant subtype is subtype B, which was transmitted into Greece by multiple sources. Our observations lend support to the argument that the distribution of HIV-1 subtypes is determined by founder effects or other processes rather than any tropism for particular cell types or mode of transmission.

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