Comparative analysis of cell culture and prediction algorithms for phenotyping of genetically diverse HIV-1 strains from Cameroon

Laboratory of Molecular Virology, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
AIDS Research and Therapy (Impact Factor: 1.46). 11/2009; 6(1):27. DOI: 10.1186/1742-6405-6-27
Source: PubMed


With the advent of entry inhibitors, monitoring of viral tropism in the clinical setting is important. Conventional methods are cell-based and lengthy, therefore V3 sequence based prediction algorithms are becoming increasingly attractive as monitoring tools. Here we report a comparative analysis of viral tropism of strains circulating in Cameroon where diverse and emerging variant strains are prevalent.
Viruses were isolated from 17 HIV positive individuals from three cities in Cameroon. Ghost cell lines expressing either CCR5 or CXCR4 with CD4 or CD4 alone (NIH AIDS Reagent Program) were used to determine co-receptor usage. HIV replication was determined by measuring p24 antigen levels. Plasma viral load (VL) was determined using the Versant bDNA assay. Nucleotide sequencing was performed on the V3 region and sequences were edited, aligned and translated into amino acids as described in the algorithm. Bio-informatics tools based on the 11/25 and charge rule were used to predict co-receptor usage.
The majority of patient isolates in our study were CRF02_AG or CRF02_AG containing recombinants. Tropism of these complex viruses based on the cell culture assay was determined to be R5 in 15/17 (88.2%) patients. However, two patient isolates were dual tropic R5X4 and had drug-specific mutations. Of these two patients, one was on antiretroviral treatment with a VL of 20,899 copies/ml and the other was drug-naïve with 141,198 copies/ml. Genotype based prediction was overall in good agreement with phenotype for R5 viruses, where 93% (14/15) of results were comparable, dual tropic viruses being reported as X4 viruses by prediction.
Our results indicate that most HIV strains in Cameroon were R5 tropic and some harbored drug-resistant mutations. V3 sequence based prediction compared well with cell based assays for R5 strains and may be useful even in settings where highly diverse strains are prevalent.

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