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J Virol. 1997 Nov;71(11):8657-65.

Divergent transcriptional regulation among expanding human immunodeficiency virus type 1 subtypes.

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Harvard AIDS Institute, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The current AIDS pandemic represents the uneven spread of multiple genetically related subtypes (A to J) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Notably, HIV-1 E in southeast Asia and HIV-1 C in sub-Saharan Africa are expanding faster and are likely of greater global significance than the HIV-1 B subtype prevalent in the United States and Europe. While many studies have focused on genetic variation among structural genes, we chose to conduct a comparative analysis of the long terminal repeats of HIV-1 E and HIV-1 C isolates and report subtype-specific differences in enhancer copy numbers and sequences, as well as divergent activation in response to the cellular transcriptional activators Rel-p65 and NFATc and viral Tat. This study is the first to identify functional distinctions in promoter architecture between HIV-1 subtypes and raises the possibility that regulatory divergence among the subtypes of HIV-1 has occurred. Divergent transcriptional regulation may explain some of the epidemiologically observed differences in transmission and pathogenesis and underscores the need for further comparative analysis of HIV-1 regulation.

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