HIV Type 1 Molecular Epidemiology in Cuba: High Genetic Diversity, Frequent Mosaicism, and Recent Expansion of BG Intersubtype Recombinant Forms

Instituto de Medicina Tropical 'Pedro Kourí', La Habana, Cuba.
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses (Impact Factor: 2.33). 09/2006; 22(8):724-33. DOI: 10.1089/aid.2006.22.724
Source: PubMed


Highly diverse HIV-1 genetic forms are circulating in Cuba, including subtypes B and G and two recombinant forms of African origin (CRF18_cpx and CRF19_cpx). Here we phylogenetically analyze pol sequences from a large collection of recent samples from Cuba, corresponding to 425 individuals from all Cuban provinces, which represents approximately 12% of prevalent infections in the country. RNA from plasma was used to amplify a pol segment by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction; phylogenetic analyses were performed with neighbour-joining trees and bootscanning. The distribution of genetic forms was subtype B, 41.2%; CRF19_cpx, 18.4%; BG recombinants, 11.6%; CRF18_cpx, 7.1%; subtype C, 6.1%; subtype G, 3.8%; B/CRF18 recombinants, 2.6%; subtype H, 2.1%; B/CRF19 recombinants, 1.7%; and others, 5.4%. Seventy-five (17.6%) viruses were recombinant between genetic forms circulating in Cuba. In logistic regression analyses, adjusting by gender and region, subtype B was more prevalent (OR 5.0, 95% CI 2.0-12.3) and subtype G less prevalent (OR 0.1, 95% CI 0.0-0.5) among men who have sex with men (MSM) than among heterosexuals. Within the main genetic forms of Cuba there were phylogenetic subclusters, several of which correlated with risk exposure or region. BG recombinants formed three phylogenetically related subclusters, corresponding to three different mosaic structures; most of these recombinants were from MSM from Havana City, among whom they have expanded recently, reaching 31% HIV-1 infections diagnosed in 2003. This study confirms the high HIV-1 diversity and frequent recombination in Cuba and reveals the recent expansion of diverse related BG recombinant forms in this country.

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    • "New and novel URFs are highly prevalent, and are markedly evident in Africa,43,48,49 South America,50 Cuba,51 China52,53 and Southeast Asia.25,24,27 They can continue to spread in the population, and lead to the emergence of new CRFs. "
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    ABSTRACT: One of the major characteristics of HIV-1 is its high genetic variability and extensive heterogeneity. This characteristic is due to its molecular traits, which in turn allows it to vary, recombine, and diversify at a high frequency. As such, it generates complex molecular forms, termed recombinants, which evade the human immune system and so survive. There is no sequence constraint to the recombination pattern as it appears to occur at inter-group (between groups M and O), as well as interand intra-subtype within group M. Rapid emergence and active global transmission of HIV-1 recombinants, known as circulating recombinant forms (CRFs) and unique recombinant forms (URFs), requires urgent attention. To date, 55 CRFs have been reported around the world. The first CRF01_AE originated from Central Africa but spread widely in Asia. The most recent CRF; CRF55_01B is a recombinant form of CRF01_AE and subtype B, although its origin is yet to be publicly disclosed. HIV-1 recombination is an ongoing event and plays an indispensable role in HIV epidemics in different regions. Africa, Asia and South America are identified as recombination hot-spots. They are affected by continual emergence and cocirculation of newly emerging CRFs and URFs, which are now responsible for almost 20% of HIV-1 infections worldwide. Better understanding of recombinants is necessary to determine their biological and molecular attributes.
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    ABSTRACT: The main objective of this study is to evaluate the prevalence of resistance-associated mutations to reverse transcriptase (RT) and protease (PR) inhibitors (I) 2 years after the introduction of antiretroviral treatment in Cuba, analyzing the mutations corresponding to different HIV-1 genetic forms circulating in Cuba. A total of 425 plasma samples were collected in 2003, corresponding to 175 (41.2%) subtype B and 250 (58.8%) non-B genetic forms, including 56 (22.4 %) non-B subtypes, 112 (44.8%) circulating recombinant forms (CRFs), and 82 (32.8%) unique RFs (URFs). Of these, 175 (41.2%) patients were under highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and 250 (58.8%) were treatment-naive. The presence of RT and PR resistance-associated mutations was established by sequencing. Levels of resistance were evaluated according to the Stanford Database program ( The prevalence of resistance to RTI was 52.2% among RTI-treated patients, 51.5% for subtype B, and 53.2% for non-B genetic forms, including CRF18_cpx, CRF19_cpx, subtype C, and BG URF. In treatment-naive patients it was 6.4% in subtype B and 4.2% in non-B subtypes and RFs. The prevalence of resistance to PRI was 30% among PRI-treated patients, 28% in subtype B and 31% in non-B genetic forms, and 3.2% among treatment-naive subjects, mostly BG recombinants. In conclusion, significant differences in the prevalence of resistance to RTI and PRI were not detected among the most frequent genetic forms from treated patients, suggesting that the genetic diversity of HIV-1 in Cuba does not play a main role in the development of resistance to antiretroviral drugs. The presence of transmitted resistance mutations supports the study of resistance at baseline of treatment.
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