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J Virol. 2004 Jul;78(13):7079-88.

Antisense-mediated inhibition of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication by use of an HIV type 1-based vector results in severely attenuated mutants incapable of developing resistance.

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VIRxSYS Corporation, Gaithersburg, MD 20877, USA.


We have constructed a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-based lentiviral vector expressing a 937-base antisense sequence against the HIV-1 envelope gene. Transduction of CD4(+) T lymphocytes with this vector results in expression of the therapeutic antisense sequence and subsequent inhibition of productive HIV-1 replication. In this report, we examined the effect of antisense-mediated suppression on the potential development of virus escape mutants using a permissive T-cell line cultured under conditions that over serial passages specifically allowed for generation and amplification of mutants selected for by antisense pressure. In the resulting virus clones, we found a significant increase in the number of deletions at the envelope target region (91% compared to 27.5% in wild-type HIV). Deletions were most often greater than 1 kb in length. These data demonstrate for the first time that during antisense-mediated suppression of HIV, mutants develop as a direct result of selective pressure on the HIV genomic RNA. Interestingly, in clones where deletions were not observed, there was a high rate of A-G transitions in mutants at the antisense target region but not outside this region, which is consistent with those mutations that are predicted as a result of antisense-mediated modification of double-stranded RNA by the enzyme double-stranded RNA-specific adenosine deaminase. These clones were not found to be escape mutants, as their replicative ability was severely attenuated, and they did not replicate in the presence of vector.

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