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AIDS. 2019 Mar 13. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000002197. [Epub ahead of print]

Critical amino acid residues and potential N-linked glycosylation sites contribute to CRF01_AE pathogenesis in Northeast China.

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Systemomics Center, College of Pharmacy, and Genomics Research Center (State-Province Key Laboratories of Biomedicine-Pharmaceutics of China), Harbin Medical University, Harbin, China.
Qing-Hai LI, Bing SHAO and Jin LI contributed equally to this study.
Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, Public Health College of Jilin Medical University, Jilin, China.
Changchun Infectious Disease Hospital, Changchun, China.
Department of Microbiology, Harbin Medical University, Harbin, China.
Department of Infectious Diseases, the Fourth Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Harbin, China.
Department of Infectious Diseases, the Third People's Hospital of Shenzhen, Shenzhen, China.



This study aimed to understand epidemiological feature and critical factors associated with pathogenesis of CRF01_AE strains in Northeast China.


Compared analysis was made between CRF01_AE and non-CRF01_AE samples to understand the pathogenicity features of CRF01_AE. Further analyses between CRF01_AE samples with high or low CD4 cell counts and between samples with different coreceptor usages were done to explore the possible factors correlating to the pathogenesis of CRF01_AE viruses.


The genotypes of newly identified strains were determined by phylogenetic analyses using Mega 6.06. Coreceptor usage was predicted by Geno2Pheno algorithm. Potential N-linked glycosylation site (PNGS) number was calculated using the online N-glycosite software. The properties of amino acid sequences were analyzed by the online ProtParam tool.


CRF01_AE become the main HIV-1 genotype since 2010. Compared with non-CRF01_AE group, the CRF01_AE group showed a higher proportion of samples with CD4 count less than 200 cells/μL. Shorter amino acid length, fewer PNGSs and the presence of a basic motif R/KNXT or NR/KT in V4 correlated to a lower CD4 count, and existence or co-existence of Thr12, Arg13, Val21 and Lys33, presence of more than 4 of net charges and lack of the PNGS within V3 favored to the X4/R5X4 coreceptor usage of CRF01_AE viruses.


CRF01_AE has dominated HIV-1 genotype in Northeast China. Infection with CRF01_AE exhibited a fast disease progression, which may be associated with specific amino acid residues and PNGSs in V3 and V4 regions as well as amino acid length of V4 region.This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal.

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