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J Virol. 2007 Apr;81(7):3240-50. Epub 2007 Jan 24.

Clinical resistance to enfuvirtide does not affect susceptibility of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 to other classes of entry inhibitors.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania, 225 Johnson Pavilion, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The clinical use of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) fusion inhibitor enfuvirtide (ENF) can select for drug-resistant HIV-1 strains bearing mutations in the HR1 region of the viral envelope (Env) protein. We analyzed the properties of multiple Env proteins isolated from five patients who experienced an initial decline in viral load after ENF therapy followed by subsequent rebound due to emergence of ENF-resistant HIV-1. Prior to ENF therapy, each patient harbored genetically and phenotypically diverse Env proteins that used CCR5 and/or CXCR4 to elicit membrane fusion. Coreceptor usage patterns of the Envs isolated from two patients underwent homogenization following ENF therapy, whereas in the other three patients, recombination appeared to allow the introduction of a single HR1 sequence with ENF resistance mutations into phenotypically distinct Env proteins. Analysis of individual Env clones also revealed that prior to ENF therapy, there was sometimes marked heterogeneity in the susceptibility of individual Env proteins to coreceptor inhibitors. After virologic failure, all Envs acquired resistance to ENF but exhibited no consistent change in their sensitivity to the fusion inhibitor T-1249 or to coreceptor inhibitors. In summary, using patient-derived Env proteins, we found that ENF failure was associated with emergence of high-level resistance to ENF due largely to mutations in HR1 but that susceptibility to other entry inhibitors was unaffected, that in these late-stage patients there was greater clonal variability to coreceptor than to fusion inhibitors, and that recombination events in vivo could sometimes restore Env genotypic and phenotypic heterogeneity by introducing drug-resistant gp41 sequences into heterologous gp120 backgrounds.

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