Conservation of an intact human immunodeficiency virus type 1 vif gene in vitro and in vivo

Pavel Sova, Marc Van Ranst, Phalguni Gupta, Raghavan Balachandran, Wei Chao, Silvia Itescu, George McKinley, David J. Volsky

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39 Scopus citations


Replication of vif-negative human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is attenuated in certain cell lines and highly impaired in peripheral blood lymphocytes in vitro. To determine whether intact vif is positively selected during natural HIV-1 infection and to determine vif sequence variability, we employed PCR amplification, cloning, and sequencing to investigate the vif region of replicating virus in short-term-passage HIV-1 primary isolates from five asymptomatic individuals and from five persons with AIDS. A total of 46 vif clones were obtained and analyzed. Recombinant proviruses were constructed from selected vif clones from one patient and found to be fully infectious. We found that 38 of the 46 clones sequenced carried open vif reading frames and that there was a low degree of heterogeneity of vif genes within isolates from the same individual and among isolates from different donors. The cysteines previously found to be essential for vif protein function were conserved in all clones. A phylogenetic tree constructed from all available vif nucleotide sequences resulted in a virus grouping similar to those of gag and env. Direct sequencing of vif amplified by PCR from uncultured lymphocytes of 15 individuals at various stages of progression toward AIDS demonstrated vif open reading frames in 13 of 15 samples tested. There was no obvious correlation between disease status and the presence of an intact vif within this sample group at the time of sample procurement. The conservation of the vif open reading frame in vitro and in vivo and its limited variability following virus transmission in vitro are consistent with a role for vif in natural HIV-1 infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2557-2564
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1995
Externally publishedYes


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