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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1996 Oct 10;12(15):1443-56.

Analysis of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 mRNA splicing patterns during disease progression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from infected individuals.

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Retrovirus Disease Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


HIV-1 produces more than 20 mRNAs encoding the viral proteins. We have used a sensitive reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) approach to determine HIV-1 transcriptional patterns during the course of viral infection in unstimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from different patients. Several sets of PCR primers, used in parallel reactions, allowed the amplification and specific detection of almost all individual HIV-1 transcripts. We investigated the transcriptional profile in two individuals during primary acute and early chronic infection. In these individuals, HIV-1 mRNA expression was elevated at the first time points examined and declined over time. In addition, we performed a detailed study of HIV-1 expression in several individuals over a minimum of 7 years following seroconversion. We found that long-term asymptomatic individuals had undetectable or low levels of the three classes of HIV-1 transcripts (unspliced, singly spliced, and multiply spliced). Individuals who demonstrated disease progression showed either a general increase in the amount of expression of all transcripts or elevated levels of unspliced transcripts in late-stage disease. The splicing pattern in each patient was conserved over the years and differed among the different individuals. No evidence of major changes in the splicing pattern was found during disease progression within the same individual. Thus, HIV-1 transcriptional patterns are viral strain specific rather than disease stage specific. These results indicate that high-level expression of any class of HIV-1 transcripts is associated with clinical progression. Our analysis also demonstrates the importance of using more than one set of primers to evaluate HIV-1 RNA expression, since virus in patient PBMCs showed sequence heterogeneity in conserved regions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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