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Virology. 1995 Nov 10;213(2):600-14.

Lymphocyte-tropic simian immunodeficiency virus causes persistent infection in the brains of rhesus monkeys.

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Department of Microbiology, Molecular Genetics and Immunology, Marion Merrell Dow Laboratory for Viral Pathogenesis, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City 66160-7240, USA.


Molecularly cloned SIVmac239 is the prototypical SIVmac lymphocyte-tropic virus that replicates productively in lymphocytes but poorly in macrophages. In macaques, the virus causes activation and productive infection of T lymphocytes which invade the central nervous system (CNS) early after infection in the animal. However, infected animals develop immunosuppression and AIDS but rarely overt neurological disease. In this study, we examined multiple regions of the brain and spinal cord for the presence of SIV env sequences and histological lesions in five macaques that had been infected with SIVmac239 for 1.7 to 2.25 years. Histopathological examination of the brain revealed no lesions consistent with encephalitis; however, viral DNA was found in all five brains. In one animal the virus caused infection in a widely disseminated pattern from the frontal cortex to the distal end of the spinal cord, whereas in the other four animals infection in the CNS occurred in a nonspecific, focal pattern. Sequence analyses were performed on gp120 sequences isolated from selected regions of the CNS and compared to gp120 sequences isolated from corresponding lymph nodes, a tissue known to support productive replication of SIVmac239. Examination of the viral sequences from the CNS tissue from two animals (macaques 10F and 14F) revealed a low mutation rate when compared to the sequences isolated from the lymph node tissues. The percentage change in the amino acid sequence was approximately 1% for CNS clones versus > or = 3% for clones isolated from the lymph node. The majority of the CNS viral sequences of macaques 10F and 14F had none of the genetic markers shown in a previous study to be associated with macrophage-tropic variants and indeed retained a nucleotide sequence of similar to the original lymphocyte-tropic virus used for inoculation despite almost 2 years of persistent infection in the animals. Construction of chimeric viruses with V1-V5 regions of selected macaque 10F and macaque 14F CNS-gp120 clones confirmed the predicted lymphocyte-tropic nature of these env genes. In contrast, the gp120 sequences isolated from the CNS tissue of one of the other three animals (macaque 13F) had a mutation rate comparable to that observed for the lymph node clones. The CNS clones from this animal had amino acid substitutions that were previously shown to be associated with macrophage tropism. Compared to the chimeric viruses constructed with V1-V5 sequences from macaques 10F and 14F, viruses constructed with the V1-V5 sequences of several macaque 13F brain clones did not yield infectious virus.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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