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Complete Nucleotide Sequence, Genome Organization, And Biological Properties Of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 In Vivo: Evidence For Limited Defectiveness And Complementation

Y Li, H Hui, C J Burgess, R W Price, P M Sharp, B H Hahn, G M Shaw

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Previous studies of the genetic and biologic characteristics of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) have by necessity used tissue culture-derived virus. We recently reported the molecular cloning of four full-length HIV-1 genomes directly from uncultured human brain tissue (Y. Li, J. C. Kappes, J. A. Conway, R. W. Price, G. M. Shaw, and B. H. Hahn, J. Virol. 65:3973-3985, 1991). In this report, we describe the biologic properties of these four clones and the complete nucleotide sequences and genome organization of two of them. Clones HIV-1YU-2 and HIV-1YU-10 were 9,174 and 9,176 nucleotides in length, differed by 0.26% in nucleotide sequence, and except for a frameshift mutation in the pol gene in HIV-1YU-10, contained open reading frames corresponding to 5'-gag-pol-vif-vpr-tat-rev-vpu-env-nef-3' flanked by long terminal repeats. HIV-1YU-2 was fully replication competent, while HIV-1YU-10 and two other clones, HIV-1YU-21 and HIV-1YU-32, were defective. All three defective clones, however, when transfected into Cos-1 cells in any pairwise combination, yielded virions that were replication competent and transmissible by cell-free passage. The cellular host range of HIV-1YU-2 was strictly limited to primary T lymphocytes and monocyte-macrophages, a property conferred by its external envelope glycoprotein. Phylogenetic analyses of HIV-1YU-2 gene sequences revealed this virus to be a member of the North American/European HIV-1 subgroup, with specific similarity to other monocyte-tropic viruses in its V3 envelope amino acid sequence. These results indicate that HIV-1 infection of brain is characterized by the persistence of mixtures of fully competent, minimally defective, and more substantially altered viral forms and that complementation among them is readily attainable. In addition, the limited degree of genotypic heterogeneity observed among HIV-1YU and other brain-derived viruses and their preferential tropism for monocyte-macrophages suggest that viral replication within the central nervous system may differ from that within the peripheral lymphoid compartment in significant and clinically important ways. The availability of genetically and biologically well characterized HIV-1 clones from uncultured human tissue should facilitate future studies of virus-cell interactions relevant to viral pathogenesis and drug and vaccine development.