Mullins Molecular Retrovirology Lab

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

Citation Information

Delwart EL, Mullins JI, Gupta P, Learn GH, Holodniy M, Katzenstein D, Walker BD, Singh MK (1998). Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 populations in blood and semen. Journal of virology, 72(1), 617-23. (pubmed)


Transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) usually results in outgrowth of viruses with macrophage-tropic phenotype and consensus non-syncytium-inducing (NSI) V3 loop sequences, despite the presence of virus with broader host range and the syncytium-inducing (SI) phenotype in the blood of many donors. We examined proviruses in contemporaneous peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and non-spermatozoal semen mononuclear cells (NSMC) of five HIV-1-infected individuals to determine if this preferential outgrowth could be due to compartmentalization and thus preferential transmission of viruses of the NSI phenotype from the male genital tract. Phylogenetic reconstructions of approximately 700-bp sequences covering the second constant region through the fifth variable region (C2 to V5) of the viral envelope gene revealed distinct variant populations in the blood versus the semen in two patients with AIDS and in one asymptomatic individual (patient 613), whereas similar variant populations were found in both compartments in two other asymptomatic individuals. Variants with amino acids in the V3 loop that predict the SI phenotype were found in both AIDS patients and in patient 613; however, the distribution of these variants between the two compartments was not consistent. SI variants were found only in the PBMC of one AIDS patient but only in the NSMC of the other, while they were found in both compartments in patient 613. It is therefore unlikely that restriction of SI variants from the male genital tract accounts for the observed NSI transmission bias. Furthermore, no evidence for a semen-specific signature amino acid sequence was detected.