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Virus Genes. 2004 Apr;28(3):259-72.

Evidence for Selection of more Adapted Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Recombinant Strains in a Dually Infected Transfusion Recipient.

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Retrovirology Laboratory, Federal University of Sao Paulo-EPM, Rua Pedro de Toledo, 781, 16 andar, Sao Paulo, SP 04039, Brazil.


Human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) genetic diversity is one of the remarkable characteristics of these viruses, and the mechanisms involved in the selective forces driving HIV-1 evolution are of great interest. Samples from hosts infected with multiple distinct strains represent a valuable in vivo resource to investigate the role of recombination in the natural evolution of HIV-1. This work describes a detailed study regarding the evolution of the envelope gene (env) (C2-V5 region) in a dually infected child who received blood transfusions simultaneously from two distinct HIV-1 infected donors. In this study, we were able to directly compare the data obtained from the dually infected recipient with data obtained from two other singly HIV-1 infected children who had received blood transfusion from each of the two donors. Sequences from the singly infected children clustered into two distinct groups, each related to the respective donor-derived sequence by phylogenetic analysis, and hence were consistent with the epidemiological data. In the case of the dually infected child, a high degree of recombination between the two donor-derived sequences was observed at the C2-V3 region, whereas in the V4-V5 region selection of only one derived donor sequence was seen. Measurement of nonsynonymous versus synonymous substitution rates at each region revealed that negative selection was the main evolutionary force acting on the viral population of the dually infected child, regardless of the genetic mechanism by which each region evolved. Based on direct comparison with data obtained for the two singly infected children we propose that the higher amount of viral diversity observed in HIV-1 multi-infection events, as in the case of the dually infected patient, might contribute to maximizing selective advantage and possibly minimizing immune response. We conclude that recombination shaped by selective forces may increase the adaptive potential of HIV-1.

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