Joanne Higgins

University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, United States

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Publications (12)49.81 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Using an established non-human primate model, rhesus macaques were infected intravenously with a chimeric simian immunodeficiency virus consisting of SIVmac239 with the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase from clone HXBc2 (RT-SHIV). The impact of two enhanced (four and five drug) highly active antiretroviral therapies (HAART) on early viral decay and rebound were determined. The four-drug combination included an integrase inhibitor, L-870-812 (L-812), together with a three drug regimen including emtricitabine [(-)-FTC], tenofovir [TFV], and efavirenz [EFV]. The five-drug combination consisted of one analog for each of the four the DNA precursors (using TFV, (-)-FTC, (-)-β-D-(2R,4R)-1,3-dioxolane-2,6-diaminopurine [Amdoxovir®, DAPD], and zidovudine [AZT] together with EFV. A cohort treated with a three drug combination of (-)-FTC, TFV and EFV served as treated controls. Daily administration of three, four or five drug combination of antiretroviral agents was initiated (at week 6 or 8 after inoculation), continued up to week 50, and then followed by a rebound period. Plasma samples were collected routinely and drug levels monitored using LC-MS/MS. Viral loads were monitored with a standard TaqMan qRT-PCR assay. Comprehensive analyses of replication dynamics were performed. RT-SHIV infection in rhesus macaques produced typical viral infection kinetics with untreated controls establishing persistent viral loads of > 10(4) copies of RNA/mL. RT-SHIV viral loads at start of treatment (V0) were similar in all treated cohorts (p > 0.5). All antiretroviral drug levels were measureable in plasma. The four-drug and five-drug combination regimens (enhanced HAART) improved suppression of viral load (within one wk, p < 0.01) and had an overall greater potency (p < 0.02) than the three-drug regimen (HAART). Moreover, rebound viremia occurred rapidly following cessation of any treatment. The enhanced HAART (four- or five-drug combinations) had significant improvement in viral suppression compared to the three-drug combination, but no combination was sufficient to eliminate viral reservoirs.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 04/2014; · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RT-SHIV is a chimera of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) containing the reverse transcriptase (RT)-encoding region of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) within the backbone of SIVmac239. It has been used in a non-human primate model for studies of non-nucleoside RT inhibitors (NNRTI) and highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). We and others have identified several mutations that arise in the "foreign" HIV-1 RT of RT-SHIV during in vivo replication. In this study we catalogued amino acid substitutions in the HIV-1 RT and in regions of the SIV backbone with which RT interacts that emerged 30 weeks post-infection from seven RT-SHIV-infected rhesus macaques. The virus set points varied from relatively high virus load, moderate virus load, to undetectable virus load. The G196R substitution in RT was detected from 6 of 7 animals at week 4 post-infection and remained in virus from 4 of 6 animals at week 30. Virus from four high virus load animals showed several common mutations within RT, including L74V or V75L, G196R, L214F, and K275R. The foreign RT from high virus load isolates exhibited as much variation as that of the highly variable envelope surface glycoprotein, and 10-fold higher than that of the native RT of SIVmac239. Isolates from moderate virus load animals showed much less variation in the foreign RT than the high virus load isolates. No variation was found in SIVmac239 genes known to interact with RT. Our results demonstrate substantial adaptation of the foreign HIV-1 RT in RT-SHIV-infected macaques, which most likely reflects selective pressure upon the foreign RT to attain optimal activity within the context of the chimeric RT-SHIV and the rhesus macaque host.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e86997. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can reduce levels of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) to undetectable levels in infected individuals, but the virus is not eradicated. The mechanisms of viral persistence during HAART are poorly defined, but some reservoirs have been identified, such as latently infected resting memory CD4(+) T cells. During latency, in addition to blocks at the initiation and elongation steps of viral transcription, there is a block in the export of viral RNA (vRNA), leading to the accumulation of multiply-spliced transcripts in the nucleus. Two of the genes encoded by the multiply-spliced transcripts are Tat and Rev, which are essential early in the viral replication cycle and might indicate the state of infection in a given population of cells. Here, the levels of multiply-spliced transcripts were compared to the levels of gag-containing RNA in tissue samples from RT-SHIV-infected rhesus macaques treated with HAART. Splice site sequence variation was identified during development of a TaqMan PCR assay. Multiply-spliced transcripts were detected in gastrointestinal and lymphatic tissues, but not the thymus. Levels of multiply-spliced transcripts were lower than levels of gag RNA, and both correlated with plasma virus loads. The ratio of multiply-spliced to gag RNA was greatest in the gastrointestinal samples from macaques with plasma virus loads <50 vRNA copies per mL at necropsy. Levels of gag RNA and multiply-spliced mRNA in tissues from RT-SHIV-infected macaques correlate with plasma virus load.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(2):e87914. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) enables long-term suppression of plasma HIV-1 loads in infected persons, but low-level virus persists and rebounds following cessation of therapy. During HAART, this virus resides in latently infected cells, such as resting CD4(+) T cells, and in other cell types that may support residual virus replication. Therapeutic eradication will require elimination of virus from all reservoirs. We report here a comprehensive analysis of these reservoirs in fluids, cells, and tissues in a rhesus macaque model that mimics HAART in HIV-infected humans. This nonhuman primate model uses RT-SHIV, a chimera of simian immunodeficiency virus containing the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT). Methods were developed for extraction, preamplification, and real-time PCR analyses of viral DNA (vDNA) and viral RNA (vRNA) in tissues from RT-SHIV-infected macaques. These methods were used to identify viral reservoirs in RT-SHIV-infected macaques treated with a potent HAART regimen consisting of efavirenz, emtricitabine, and tenofovir. Plasma virus loads at necropsy ranged from 11 to 28 copies of vRNA per ml. Viral RNA and DNA were detected during HAART, in tissues from numerous anatomical locations. Additional analysis provided evidence for full-length viral RNA in tissues of animals with virus suppressed by HAART. The highest levels of vDNA and vRNA in HAART-treated macaques were in lymphoid tissues, particularly the spleen, lymph nodes, and gastrointestinal tract tissues. This study is the first comprehensive analysis of the tissue and organ distribution of a primate AIDS virus during HAART. These data demonstrate widespread persistence of residual virus in tissues during HAART.
    Journal of Virology 03/2010; 84(6):2913-22. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To prevent progression to AIDS, persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) must remain on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) indefinitely since this modality does not eradicate the virus. The mechanisms involved in viral persistence during HAART are poorly understood, but an animal model of HAART could help elucidate these mechanisms and enable studies of HIV-1 eradication strategies. Due to the specificity of non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors (NNRTIs) for HIV-1, we have used RT-SHIV, a chimeric virus of simian immunodeficiency virus with RT from HIV-1. This virus is susceptible to NNRTIs and causes an AIDS-like disease in rhesus macaques. In this study, two groups of HAART-treated, RT-SHIV-infected macaques were analyzed to determine viral decay kinetics. In the first group, viral loads were monitored with a standard TaqMan RT-PCR assay with a limit of detection of 50 viral RNA copies per mL. Upon initiation of HAART, viremia decayed in a bi-phasic manner with half-lives of 1.7 and 8.5 days, respectively. A third phase was observed with little further decay. In the second group, the macaques were followed longitudinally with a more sensitive assay utilizing ultracentrifugation to concentrate virus from plasma. Bi-phasic decay of viral RNA was also observed in these animals with half-lives of 1.8 and 5.8 days. Viral loads in these animals during a third phase ranged from 2-58 RNA copies/mL, with little decay over time. The viral decay kinetics observed in these macaques are similar to those reported for HIV-1 infected humans. These results demonstrate that low-level viremia persists in RT-SHIV-infected macaques despite a HAART regimen commonly used in humans.
    PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(7):e11640. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have modeled highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for AIDS in rhesus macaques infected with a chimera (RT-SHIV) of simian immunodeficiency virus containing reverse transcriptase from human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1). Seven RT-SHIV-infected macaques were treated with a combination of efavirenz (200 mg orally once daily), lamivudine (8 mg/kg subcutaneously once daily), and tenofovir (30 mg/kg subcutaneously once daily). Plasma viral RNA levels in all animals were reduced by more than 1,000-fold after 4 weeks and, in six of the seven animals, were reduced to undetectable levels after 10 weeks. Virus loads increased slightly between 12 and 16 weeks of treatment, associated with problems with the administration of efavirenz. After a change in the method of efavirenz administration, virus loads declined again and remained undetectable in the majority of animals for the duration of therapy. Treatment was stopped for three animals after 36 weeks of therapy, and virus loads increased rapidly. Posttreatment RT-SHIV isolates had no mutations associated with resistance to any of the three drugs. Efavirenz treatment was stopped, but lamivudine and tenofovir treatment for two other macaques was continued. The virus load in one of these two animals rebounded; virus from this animal was initially free of drug-resistance mutations but acquired the K65R mutation in reverse transcriptase at 11 weeks after efavirenz treatment was withdrawn. These results mimic HAART of HIV-1-infected humans. The RT-SHIV/rhesus macaque model should be useful for studies of tissue reservoirs and sites of residual replication that are not possible or practical with humans.
    Journal of Virology 07/2005; 79(12):7349-54. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The specificity of nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors (NNRTIs) for the RT of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has prevented the use of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in the study of NNRTIs and NNRTI-based highly active antiretroviral therapy. However, a SIV-HIV-1 chimera (RT-SHIV), in which the RT from SIVmac239 was replaced with the RT-encoding region from HIV-1, is susceptible to NNRTIs and is infectious to rhesus macaques. We have evaluated the antiviral activity of efavirenz against RT-SHIV and the emergence of efavirenz-resistant mutants in vitro and in vivo. RT-SHIV was susceptible to efavirenz with a mean effective concentration of 5.9 +/- 4.5 nM, and RT-SHIV variants selected with efavirenz in cell culture displayed 600-fold-reduced susceptibility. The efavirenz-resistant mutants of RT-SHIV had mutations in RT similar to those of HIV-1 variants that were selected under similar conditions. Efavirenz monotherapy of RT-SHIV-infected macaques produced a 1.82-log-unit decrease in plasma viral-RNA levels after 1 week. The virus load rebounded within 3 weeks in one treated animal and more slowly in a second animal. Virus isolated from these two animals contained the K103N and Y188C or Y188L mutations. The RT-SHIV-rhesus macaque model may prove useful for studies of antiretroviral drug combinations that include efavirenz.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 10/2004; 48(9):3483-90. · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: 16alpha-Bromo-epiandrosterone (epiBr), a synthetic derivative of the natural hormone dehyroepiandrosterone (DHEA), was evaluated for its effects on feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection in experimental cats. The rationale for this study was based on the ability of DHEA to significantly reduce the mortality to viral infections in mice. DHEA and epiBr also have demonstrable in vitro anti-viral activity for both HIV-1 and FIV. Preliminary pharmacokinetic studies in cats demonstrated that subcutaneously injected epiBr was rapidly absorbed, completely metabolized, and nontoxic. Metabolites were excreted in both urine and feces, with the latter having the most complex pattern of breakdown products. Cats were then divided into four groups; two groups were infected with FIV and two uninfected. Two groups, one infected and one uninfected were treated on 5 consecutive days of weeks 0, 4, 8, 12 and 16 with epiBr. The remaining two groups were mock treated with the drug vehicle alone. Treatment started 1 week prior to infection and extended for 4 weeks after infection. Cats were observed for 20 weeks post-FIV infection. Infected cats had identical decreases in blood neutrophil and lymphocyte counts following, regardless of whether they were treated with epiBr or vehicle alone. The CD4/CD8 T-cell ratio was decreased following FIV exposure, but was significantly more decreased for the epiBr treated animals from week 2 post-infection onward. CD4+ T cells were decreased in FIV-infected cats treated with epiBr compared to their untreated cohort, while CD8+ T cells tended to be higher in treated animals. FIV infected cats that were treated with epiBr had over one-log higher virus loads at week 2 post-infection than non-epiBr treated cohorts. In spite of this enhanced initial viremia, the subsequent levels of virus in the blood were significantly lower in epiBr treated versus untreated animals. EpiBr treated cats had significantly higher FIV-p24 antibody responses than control cats receiving vehicle alone, although primary and secondary antibody responses to a T-cell dependent non-FIV antigen, keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), were unaffected. EpiBr treatment significantly decreased the expected FIV-induced suppression of IL-12 p40 mRNA levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) observed at weeks 4, 5, 8, 9 and 16 post-infection, but had no influence on FIV-induced changes in IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IFN-gamma, MIP-1alpha and RANTES.
    Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 09/2003; 94(3-4):133-48. · 1.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human herpesvirus type 8 vMIP-II has one of the broadest ranges of chemokine receptor binding and therefore a multiplicity of biologic effects, both immunologic and antiviral. These properties make vMIP-II an attractive effector gene to be expressed from gene therapy vectors. The present studies were concerned with both therapeutic approaches: (1) an anti-simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) biologic, and (2) an effector gene in SIV-based vectors. Regarding its antiviral properties, vMIP-II expressed from bacteria and SIV-based vectors bound the surface of CEMx174 cells and specifically suppressed SIVmac251 infection. A CCR3 monoclonal antibody partially inhibited vMIP-II binding, suggesting that both SIVmac251 and vMIP-II utilize a similar CCR3-like receptor for CEMx174 cell binding. Replication competent SIV-based vectors containing forward and reverse vMIP-II produced neither identifiable vMIP-II nor virions for the first 21 days. Virus replication occurred after this period. Significant sequence alterations in the forward vMIP-II containing replication competent vector transcripts were responsible for the failure of vMIP-II expression. The genetic basis for the initial failure to replicate virus and its later restoration was not determined but appeared in the II-PIMv containing vectors to coincide with deletions and compensatory rearrangements in nef 3' of the polypurine tract. Cells transfected with SIVmac239Delta3DeltaLTR-vMIP-II vectors expressed biologically active vMIP-II that bound CEMx174 cells and suppressed SIVmac251 infection. These data suggest that replication defective SIV vectors expressing immunobiolgic genes such as vMIP-II may prove useful in gene therapies, particularly in augmenting immune responses in chronically infected individuals.
    Virus Research 09/2003; 94(2):103-12. · 2.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We used a focal infectivity assay with HeLa H1-JC.37 cells to directly compare susceptibilities of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) to protease inhibitors. SIVmac239 was inhibited by indinavir, saquinavir, and ritonavir, with 50% effective concentrations (means +/- standard deviations) of 39 +/- 8, 55 +/- 3, and 13 +/- 5 nM, respectively. The corresponding values for inhibition of HIV-1 were 66 +/- 4, 47 +/- 10, and 25 +/- 14 nM, respectively.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 06/2003; 47(5):1756-9. · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The methionine-to-valine mutation in codon 184 (M184V) in reverse transcriptase (RT) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) or simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) confers resistance to (-)-2'-deoxy-3'-thiacytidine (3TC; lamivudine) and increased sensitivity to 9-[2-(phosphonomethoxy)propyl]adenine (PMPA; tenofovir). We have used the SIV model to evaluate the effect of the M184V mutation on the emergence of resistance to the combination of 3TC plus PMPA. A site-directed mutant of SIVmac239 containing M184V (SIVmac239-184V) was used to select for resistance to both 3TC and PMPA by serial passage in the presence of increasing concentrations of both drugs. Under these selection conditions, the M184V mutation reverted in the majority of the selections. Variants resistant to both drugs were found to have the lysine-to-arginine mutation at codon 65 (K65R), which has previously been associated with resistance to PMPA in both SIV and HIV. Similarly, in rhesus macaques infected with SIVmac239-184V for 46 weeks and treated daily with (-)-2'-deoxy-5-fluoro-3'-thiacytidine [(-)-FTC], there was no reversion of M184V, but this mutation reverted to 184 M in all three animals within 24 weeks of treatment with (-)-FTC and PMPA. Although the addition of PMPA to the (-)-FTC therapy induced a decrease in virus loads in plasma, these loads eventually returned to pre-PMPA levels in each case. All animals receiving this combination developed the K65R mutation. These results demonstrate that the combination of PMPA with 3TC or (-)-FTC selects for the K65R mutation and against the M184V mutation in SIV RT.
    Journal of Virology 02/2003; 77(2):1120-30. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Drug-resistant mutants with a methionine-to-valine substitution at position 184 of reverse transcriptase (M184V) emerged within 5 weeks of initiation of therapy in four newborn macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIVmac251) and treated with lamivudine (3TC) or emtricitabine [(-)-FTC] (two animals per drug). Thus, this animal model mimics the rapid emergence of M184V mutants of HIV-1 during 3TC therapy of human patients. One animal of each treatment group developed fatal immunodeficiency at 12 weeks of age, which is similar to the rapid disease course seen in most untreated SIVmac251-infected infant macaques. To further evaluate the effect of the M184V mutation on viral fitness and virulence, groups of juvenile macaques were inoculated with the molecular clone SIVmac239 with either the wild-type sequence (group A [n = 5]) or the M184V sequence (SIVmac239-184V; group B [n = 5] and group C [n = 2]). The two SIVmac239-184V-infected animals of group C did not receive any drug treatment, and in both animals the virus population reverted to predominantly wild type (184M) by 8 weeks after inoculation. The other five SIVmac239-184V-infected animals (group B) were treated with (-)-FTC to prevent reversion. Although virus levels 1 week after inoculation were lower in the SIVmac239-184V-infected macaques than in the SIVmac239-infected animals, no significant differences were observed from week 2 onwards. Two animals in each group developed AIDS and were euthanized, while all other animals were clinically stable at 46 weeks of infection. These data demonstrate that the M184V mutation in SIV conferred a slightly reduced fitness but did not affect disease outcome.
    Journal of Virology 07/2002; 76(12):6083-92. · 5.08 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

202 Citations
49.81 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2002–2004
    • University of California, Davis
      • Center for Comparative Medicine
      Davis, CA, United States
  • 2003
    • Wisconsin National Primate Research Center
      Madison, Wisconsin, United States