Ashokkumar M, Aralaguppe SG, Tripathy SP, Hanna LE, Neogi U
J. Virol. 92 (9) - [2018-05-01; online 2018-04-13]
Adequate information on the precise molecular and biological composition of the viral strains that establish HIV infection in the human host will provide effective means of immunization against HIV infection. In an attempt to identify the transmitted founder (TF) virus and differentiate the biological properties and infectious potential of the TF virus from those of the population of the early transmitted viruses, 250 patient-derived gp120 envelope glycoproteins were cloned in pMN-K7-Luc-IRESs-NefΔgp120 to obtain chimeric viruses. Samples were obtained from eight infants who had recently become infected with HIV through mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) and two adults who acquired infection through the heterosexual route and were in the chronic stage of infection. Among the 250 clones tested, 65 chimeric viruses were infectious, and all belonged to HIV-1 subtype C. The 65 clones were analyzed for molecular features of the envelope, per-infectious-particle infectivity, coreceptor tropism, drug sensitivity, and sensitivity to broadly neutralizing antibodies. Based on genotypic and phenotypic analysis of the viral clones, we identified 10 TF viruses from the eight infants. The TF viruses were characterized by shorter V1V2 regions, a reduced number of potential N-linked glycosylation sites, and a higher infectivity titer compared to the virus variants from the adults in the chronic stage of infection. CXCR6 coreceptor usage, in addition to that of the CCR5 coreceptor, which was used by all 65 chimeric viruses, was identified in 13 viruses. The sensitivity of the TF variants to maraviroc and a standard panel of neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (VRC01, PG09, PG16, and PGT121) was found to be much lower than that of the virus variants from the adults in the chronic stage of infection.