The genetic bottleneck in vertical transmission of subtype C HIV-1 is not driven by selection of especially neutralization-resistant virus from the maternal viral population.
Subtype C human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1C) continues to cause the majority of new cases of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), and yet there are limited data on HIV-1C transmission. We amplified env from plasma RNA for 19 HIV-1C MTCT pairs, 10 transmitting in utero (IU) and 9 transmitting intrapartum (IP). There was a strong genetic bottleneck between all mother-infant pairs, with a majority of transmission events involving the transmission of a single virus. env genes of viruses transmitted to infants IP, but not IU, encoded Env proteins that were shorter and had fewer putative N-linked glycosylation sites in the V1-V5 region than matched maternal sequences. Viruses pseudotyped with env clones representative of each maternal and infant population were tested for neutralization sensitivity. The 50% inhibitory concentration of autologous serum was similar against both transmitted (infant) and nontransmitted (maternal) viruses in a paired analysis. Mother and infant Env proteins were also similar in sensitivity to soluble CD4, to a panel of monoclonal antibodies, and to heterologous HIV-1C sera. In addition, there was no difference in the breadth or potency of neutralizing antibodies between sera from 50 nontransmitting and 23 IU and 23 IP transmitting HIV-1C-infected women against four Env proteins from heterologous viruses. Thus, while a strong genetic bottleneck was detected during MCTC, with viruses of shorter and fewer glycosylation sites in env present in IP transmission, our data do not support this bottleneck being driven by selective resistance to antibodies.
Russell, ES; Kwiek, JJ; Keys, J; Barton, K; Mwapasa, V; Montefiori, DC; Meshnick, SR; Swanstrom, R
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