Mullins Molecular Retrovirology Lab

  • Department of Microbiology
  • School of Medicine
  • University of Washington
University of Washington/Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research

Citation Information

Nickle DC, Jensen MA, Shriner D, Brodie SJ, Frenkel LM, Mittler JE, Mullins JI (2003). Evolutionary indicators of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reservoirs and compartments. Journal of virology, 77(9), 5540-6. (pubmed)


In vivo virologic compartments are cell types or tissues between which there is a restriction of virus flow, while virologic reservoirs are cell types or tissues in which there is a relative restriction of replication. The distinction between reservoirs and compartments is important because therapies that would be effective against a reservoir may not be effective against viruses produced by a given compartment, and vice versa. For example, the use of cytokines to “flush out” long-lived infected cells in patients on highly active antiretroviral therapy (T. W. Chun, D. Engel, M. M. Berrey, T. Shea, L. Corey, and A. S. Fauci, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95:8869-8873, 1998) may be successful for a latent reservoir but may not impact a compartment in which virus continues to replicate because of poor drug penetration. Here, we suggest phylogenetic criteria to illustrate, define, and differentiate between reservoirs and compartments. We then apply these criteria to the analysis of simulated and actual human immunodeficiency virus type 1 sequence data sets. We report that existing statistical methods work quite well at detecting viral compartments, and we learn from simulations that viral divergence from a calculated most recent common ancestor is a strong predictor of viral reservoirs.