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Virology. 2010 May 10;400(2):164-74. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2009.12.019. Epub 2010 Jan 25.

Functional properties of the HIV-1 subtype C envelope glycoprotein associated with mother-to-child transmission.

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Nebraska Center for Virology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0900, USA.


Understanding the properties of viruses capable of establishing infection during perinatal transmission of HIV-1 is critical for designing effective means of limiting transmission. We previously demonstrated that the newly transmitted viruses (in infant) were more fit in growth, as imparted by their envelope glycoproteins, than those in their corresponding mothers. Here, we further characterized the viral envelope glycoproteins from six mother-infant transmission pairs and determined whether any specific envelope functions correlate with HIV-1 subtype C perinatal transmission. We found that most newly transmitted viruses were less susceptible to neutralization by their maternal plasma compared to contemporaneous maternal viruses. However, the newly transmitted variants were sensitive to neutralization by pooled heterologous plasma but in general were resistant to IgG1 b12. Neither Env processing nor incorporation efficiency was predictive of viral transmissibility. These findings provide further insight into the characteristics of perinatally transmissible HIV-1 and may have implications for intervention approaches.

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