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Antivir Ther. 2006;11(7):879-87.

Compensatory mutations at the HIV cleavage sites p7/p1 and p1/p6-gag in therapy-naive and therapy-experienced patients.

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Institute of Virology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.



Mutations in the genome of HIV conferring drug resistance are a major reason for the failure of antiretroviral therapy, but they often compromise viral fitness. Protease (PR) cleavage site (CS) mutations could compensate for impaired replication capacity of drug-resistant viruses.


We analysed the cleavage sites p1/p7 and p1/p6-gag of 500 HIV-1 subtype B infected patients. The collective consists of 275 therapy-naive and 225 therapy-experienced patients with at least one primary PR mutation, from whom eight underwent therapy-interruption in different clinical settings.


Multiple mutations within the CS p7/p1 and p1/p6-gag accumulated in therapy-experienced isolates (p7/p1: A431V-K436R-I437V and p1/p6-gag: L449F/V-P452S-P453L/A). Further rare CS mutations were totally absent in therapy-naive viruses. Sixty percent of all therapy-experienced viruses exhibited at least one therapy-associated CS mutation, but so did 10% of therapy-naive viruses. The analysis of CS and PR mutations in therapy-experienced viruses revealed several positive correlations--A431V with L24I-M46I/L-I54V-V82A; I437V with I54V-V82F/T/S; L449V with I54M/L/S/T/A; and L449F/R452S/P453L: with D30N-I84V--whereas P453L and V82A were negatively correlated. Mutagenetic trees constructed form this cross-sectional data showed an ordered accumulation of the most prominent CS mutations along two pathways L90M-I84V-P453L and I54-V82-A431V followed by either M46L or L24I. Furthermore, eight viruses with at least one therapy-associated mutation at each CS displayed an outstanding maintenance of major PR mutations during therapy interruption.


These findings emphasize the relevance of CS mutations in the evolution of HIV resistance to PR inhibitors. Therefore, therapy-associated CS mutations should be considered in HIV resistance tests to estimate viral fitness in different clinical settings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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