Journal Article

HIV-1 Proteases from Drug-Naive West African Patients Are Differentially Less Susceptible to Protease Inhibitors

Masanobu Kinomoto, Regina Appiah-Opong, J. A. M. Brandful, Masaru Yokoyama, Nicholas Nii-Trebi, Evelyn Ugly-Kwame, Hironori Sato, David Ofori-Adjei, Takeshi Kurata, Françoise Barre-Sinoussi, Tetsutaro Sata and Kenzo Tokunaga

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 41, issue 2, pages 243-251
Published in print July 2005 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online July 2005 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/431197
HIV-1 Proteases from Drug-Naive West African Patients Are Differentially Less Susceptible to Protease Inhibitors

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Background. Now that highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is being initiated on a large scale in West Africa, it remains controversial whether protease inhibitors (PIs), originally designed and tested against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtype B, are equally effective against the non-B subtypes that are prevalent in West African countries. In this study, we investigated whether Ghanaian HIV-1 isolates, as representatives of West African isolates, are susceptible to PIs.

Methods. We first generated an HIV-1 protease cassette vector proviral DNA carrying a luciferase gene, which allows patient-derived HIV-1 proteases to be inserted and to be subjected to both genotypic and phenotypic assays. HIV-1 protease genes derived from 39 treatment-naive Ghanaian patients were used in this experiment as representatives of West African strains. The cloned patient-derived HIV-1 protease genes were first sequenced and then genetically compared. Phenotypic analysis was performed with Ghanaian HIV-1 protease-chimeric viruses in the presence of 6 different PIs. Structural models of HIV-1 protease homodimers were constructed by the molecular modeling software.

Results. Genetic analysis of cloned patient-derived HIV-1 protease genes indicated that most of the Ghanaian HIV-1 proteases are placed as subtype CRF02_AG strains, which are phylogenetically distant from subtype B strains, and that Ghanaian HIV-1 proteases do not harbor known major mutations influencing drug resistance but commonly carry 2–3 minor mutations. Phenotypic analysis performed with HIV-1 protease-recombinant viruses in the presence of 6 different PIs revealed that Ghanaian HIV-1 proteases are differentially less susceptible to the PIs. In support of this finding of differential susceptibility, structural analysis showed a significant distortion of nelfinavir, but not of amprenavir, in the Ghanaian protease pocket, suggesting nelfinavir might be less insertable into the Ghanaian protease than into the protease of subtype B.

Conclusions. These findings provide implications for the combination of PIs during the introduction of HAART into West Africa.

Journal Article.  4602 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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