A cluster of HIV type 1 subtype C sequences from Ethiopia, observed in full genome analysis, is not sustained in subgenomic regions.
The impact of HIV-1 genetic diversity on candidate vaccines is uncertain. One approach to minimize genetic diversity in the evaluation of HIV-1 vaccines is to match the vaccine sequence to the predominant subtype in a vaccine cohort. Over two million Ethiopians are infected with HIV-1, and the predominant subtype is thought to be subtype C. Understanding the phylogenetic relationships between sequences from Ethiopia and within subtype C can help decide what sequence(s) should comprise a candidate vaccine. To that end, nearly full genome sequencing was used to characterize HIV-1 from volunteers who emigrated from Ethiopia. DNA extracted from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PMBC) was amplified using primers in the long terminal repeats to generate nearly full-length genomes. Amplicons were directly sequenced with dye terminators and automated sequencers. Sequences were phylogenetically analyzed by neighbor joining. The six new Ethiopian sequences were all subtype C, consistent with previous partial and full genome analysis. Together with two other Ethiopian sequences, the new sequences formed a geographic cluster when the complete genome was analyzed. However, subgenomic trees showed only a weak geographic cluster, or none, with respect to Ethiopian strains. Although immunological responses must be considered, from a phylogenetic perspective, there is no compelling support for use of Ethiopian subtype C sequences, compared to other subtype C, as vaccine prototype strains.
Harris, ME; Maayan, S; Kim, B; Zeira, M; Ferrari, G; Birx, DL; McCutchan, FE
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