Kliks S, Contag CH, Corliss H, Learn G, Rodrigo A, Wara D, Mullins JI, Levy JA (2000). Genetic analysis of viral variants selected in transmission of human immunodeficiency viruses to newborns. AIDS research and human retroviruses, 16(13), 1223-33. (pubmed)
Our previous studies have indicated that HIV transmission from infected mothers to infants occurs with viruses showing rapid kinetics of replication, and either resistance to maternal neutralizing antibodies or sensitivity to enhancing antibodies. The genotypic patterns that result in these and other phenotypic viral characteristics may provide clues to the selection pressures exerted during this mode of transmission. For this reason, DNA sequences of the envelope gene (env) were determined for viral isolates obtained from seropositive women who were mothers of either infected or uninfected infants. Sequences of viruses isolated early in life from the infected newborns were also determined, such that diversity both within isolates and between maternal and infant isolates could be assessed. Among isolates obtained from mothers of uninfected infants, the V3 region of env demonstrated a higher degree of heterogeneity than those from mothers of infected infants. Similar to the viruses obtained from the mothers of infected infants, the infant-derived viral sequences were relatively homogeneous. Finally, the reactivity of maternal plasma with infant-derived HIV isolates, whether via neutralizing or enhancing antibodies, appeared to predict the distribution of viral sequences in the infant isolates. These data suggest that selective pressure on HIV-1 during transmission or growth in the infected infant may be mediated by biologic and/or immunologic processes.