Distinctive variation in the U3R region of the 5' Long Terminal Repeat from diverse HIV-1 strains.
Functional mapping of the 5'LTR has shown that the U3 and the R regions (U3R) contain a cluster of regulatory elements involved in the control of HIV-1 transcription and expression. As the HIV-1 genome is characterized by extensive variability, here we aimed to describe mutations in the U3R from various HIV-1 clades and CRFs in order to highlight strain specific differences that may impact the biological properties of diverse HIV-1 strains. To achieve our purpose, the U3R sequence of plasma derived virus belonging to different clades (A1, B, C, D, F2) and recombinants (CRF02_AG, CRF01_AE and CRF22_01A1) was obtained using Illumina technology. Overall, the R region was very well conserved among and across different strains, while in the U3 region the average inter-strains nucleotide dissimilarity was up to 25%. The TAR hairpin displayed a strain-distinctive cluster of mutations affecting the bulge and the loop, but mostly the stem. Like in previous studies we found a TATAA motif in U3 promoter region from the majority of HIV-1 strains and a TAAAA motif in CRF01_AE; but also in LTRs from CRF22_01A1 isolates. Although LTRs from CRF22_01A1 specimens were assigned CRF01_AE, they contained two NF-kB sites instead of the single TFBS described in CRF01_AE. Also, as previously describe in clade C isolates, we found no C/EBP binding site directly upstream of the enhancer region in CRF22_01A1 specimens. In our study, one-third of CRF02_AG LTRs displayed three NF-kB sites which have been mainly described in clade C isolates. Overall, the number, location and binding patterns of potential regulatory elements found along the U3R might be specific to some HIV-1 strains such as clade F2, CRF02_AG, CRF01_AE and CRF22_01A1. These features may be worth consideration as they may be involved in distinctive regulation of HIV-1 transcription and replication by different and diverse infecting strains.
Mbondji-Wonje, C; Dong, M; Wang, X; Zhao, J; Ragupathy, V; Sanchez, AM; Denny, TN; Hewlett, I
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