Genetic and functional heterogeneity of CNS-derived tat alleles from patients with HIV-associated dementia

Daniel Cowley, Lachlan Robert Gray, Steven Lodewyk Wesselingh, Paul R Gorry, Melissa Churchill

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) demonstrates a high degree of viral diversity which has an impact on viral fitness. Genetic compartmentalization of HIV-1 proteins between central nervous system (CNS) and lymphoid tissues is well established and reflects altered requirements for HIV-1 replication in macrophages/microglia, brain-specific immune selection pressures and possibly the timing of virus invasion of the CNS. Tat-encoding mRNA has been detected in the CNS of HIV-1 infected individuals and its neurotoxic effects in the CNS are well documented. However, while CNS-derived tat sequences have demonstrated significant diversity, the effect of this molecular diversity on transcriptional regulation and its impact on the pathogenesis of HIV-associated dementia (HAD) remains unclear. In this study, we cloned and characterised 44 unique tat alleles from brain, cerebral spinal fluid, spinal cord and blood/lymphoid tissue-derived HIV-1 isolates from five subjects with HAD. While phylogenetic analyses revealed tissue-specific compartmentalization of Tat variants for two patients, broad compartmentalization across the panel of tissue-derived viruses was not observed. Despite the lack of consistent tissue-specific compartmentalization, sequence variations within patients segregated...
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70 - 81
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurovirology
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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