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Virology. 1997 Feb 17;228(2):340-9.

Genetic characterization of vif, vpr, and vpu sequences from long-term survivors of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection.

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Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10016, USA.


The identification of HIV-1-infected individuals who remain asymptomatic despite prolonged infection presents a unique opportunity to understand virologic and host factors involved in the pathogenesis of AIDS. We have previously identified 10 long-term survivors (LTS) who are clinically healthy and immunologically normal despite 13 to 15 years of HIV-1 infection. In this study, we examined three accessory genes of HIV-1, vif, vpr, and vpu, in these LTS. A total of 52 vif, 54 vpr, and 55 vpu nucleotide sequences were obtained from the peripheral blood mononuclear cells of these patients. Analysis of these sequences revealed no gross deletions or insertions. Most of the clones were full-length with an intact open reading frame. Phylogenetic analyses of the vif, vpr, and vpu sequences from the LTS suggested that the HIV-1 strains found in the study subjects are not significantly different from those found in patients with AIDS and that the viruses in the LTS are unlikely to share a common genetic origin. Furthermore, a similar degree of overall genetic diversity between viruses from the LTS and AIDS patients suggests that there is unlikely a significant correlation between the degree of genetic diversity and the rate of disease development. Factors other than genetic divergence, such as viral load and phenotype, are likely to impact more on disease status.

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