Identification of HIV-1 genitourinary tract compartmentalization by analyzing the env gene sequences in urine.
OBJECTIVE: HIV-1 persists indefinitely in memory CD4 T cells and other long-lived cellular reservoirs despite antiretroviral therapy. Our group had previously demonstrated that HIV-1 can establish a productive infection in renal epithelial cells and that the kidney represents a separate compartment for HIV-1 replication. Here, to better understand the viruses in this unique site, we genetically characterized and compared the viruses in blood and urine specimens from 24 HIV-1 infected patients with detectable viremia. DESIGN AND METHODS: Blood and urine samples were obtained from 35 HIV-1 positive patients. Single-genome amplification was performed on HIV-1 env RNA and DNA isolated from urine supernatants and urine-derived cell pellets, respectively, as well as from plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cell from the same individuals. Neighbor-joining trees were constructed under the Kimura 2-parameter model. RESULTS: We amplified and sequenced the full-length HIV-1 envelope (env) gene from 12 of the 24 individuals, indicating that 50% of the viremic HIV-1-positive patients had viral RNA in their urine. Phylogenetic analysis of the env sequences from four individuals with more than 15 urine-derived env sequences showed that the majority of the sequences from urine formed distinct cluster(s) independent of those peripheral blood mononuclear cell and plasma-derived sequences, consistent with viral compartmentalization in the urine. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest the presence of a distinct HIV compartment in the genitourinary tract.
Blasi, M; Carpenter, JH; Balakumaran, B; Cara, A; Gao, F; Klotman, ME
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