Effect of a Protease Inhibitor-Induced Genetic Bottleneck on Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 env Gene Populations

W. Resch, J. A. E. Nelson, K. M. Kitrinos, R. Swanstrom
The initiation of drug therapy or the addition of a new drug to preexisting therapy can have a significant impact on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) populations within a person. Drug therapy directed at reverse transcriptase and protease can result in dramatic decreases in virus load, causing a contraction in the virus population that represents a potential genetic bottleneck as a subset of virus with genomes carrying resistance mutations repopulate the host. While this bottleneck
more » ... e this bottleneck exerts an effect directly on the region that is being targeted by the drugs, it also affects other regions of the viral genome. We have applied heteroduplex tracking assays (HTA) specific to variable regions 1 and 2 (V1/V2) and variable region 3 (V3) of the HIV-1 env gene to analyze the effect of a genetic bottleneck created by the selection of resistance to ritonavir, a protease inhibitor. Subjects were classified into groups on the basis of the extent of the initial drop in virus load and the duration of virus load reduction. Subjects with a strong initial drop in virus load exhibited a loss of heterogeneity in the env region at virus load rebound; in contrast, subjects with a weak initial drop in virus load exhibited little to no loss of heterogeneity at virus load rebound in either region of env examined. The duration of virus load reduction also affected env populations. Subjects that had prolonged reductions exhibited slower population diversification and the appearance of new V1/V2 species after rebound. The longer reduction of virus load in these subjects may have allowed for improved immune system function, which in turn could have selected for new escape mutants. Subjects with rapid rebound quickly reequilibrated the entry env variants back into the resistant population. When the pro gene developed further resistance mutations subsequent to virus load rebound, no changes were observed in V1/V2 or V3 populations, suggesting that the high virus loads allowed the env populations to reequilibrate rapidly. The rapid equ [...]
doi:10.17615/5e9k-xf81 fatcat:2pwjsaf27bbh3nksl5q3k6ugpa