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Virology. 1998 Feb 15;241(2):251-9.

Evolution of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 envelope sequences in infected individuals with differing disease progression profiles.

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Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.


Sequence variation displayed by the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has been proposed to be linked to the pathogenesis of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). To assess viral evolution during the course of infection, we evaluated sequence variability in the env variable domains in four HIV-1-infected individuals exhibiting differing profiles of CD4+ T cell decline when followed from seroconversion until the development of AIDS or loss of followup. Proviral sequences encoding the V3-V5 region of gp 120 were obtained following PCR amplification of peripheral blood mononuclear cell DNA and cloning. Virus in each patient was relatively homogeneous early in infection and then diverged with time, more consistently at its nonsynonymous sites. Just prior to or coincident with a rapid decline in CD4+ T cell numbers, sequences were found with basic amino acid substitutions clustered within and downstream of the gp 120 V3 domain. Within the constraints of the current data set, we conclude that the virus appears to continually accumulate changes in its amino acid sequences well into the time of marked CD4+ T cell decline.

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