Publications & Reports

Serological detection of attenuated HIV-1 variants with nef gene deletions.

Greenway AL, Mills J, Rhodes D, Deacon NJ, McPhee DA
AIDS Cellular Biology Unit, National Centre in HIV Virology Research, Macfarlane Burnet Centre for Medical Research, Fairfield, Victoria, Australia.


OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether members of a transfusion-linked cohort (the Sydney Bloodbank Cohort) infected with a nef-deleted strain of HIV-1 could be differentiated from individuals infected with wild-type strains of HIV-1 by characterizing the Nef antibody response of cohort members. DESIGN: Retrospective and prospective analysis of the nef gene sequence and the antibody response to Nef peptides in HIV-infected subjects. METHODS: Plasma was obtained from all individuals of the Sydney cohort, and from a variety of HIV-1-infected and uninfected controls. Antibodies recognizing full-length recombinant HIV-1NL43 Nef protein and synthetic peptide analogues were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RESULTS: All 34 individuals infected with wild-type HIV-1 had antibodies reacting with full-length Nef protein as well as with a series of synthetic peptides (6-23-mers) spanning most of the Nef protein of HIV-1NL43. Although the HIV-1 quasispecies infecting the Sydney cohort had a consensus deletion of the nef gene corresponding to amino-acids 165-206, HIV-1 strains from individual members of the cohort had additional deletions comprising up to 80% of the nef gene. Members of the cohort had antibodies to peptides homologous to all regions of the Nef protein tested, except for a single peptide (amino-acids 162-177) that lies within the consensus nef deletion for the cohort quasispecies. CONCLUSION: These data show that nef-deleted strains of HIV-1 can be detected serologically. In the Sydney cohort, detection of antibodies to all regions of Nef tested, except that corresponding to amino-acids 162-177, suggests that observed deletions outside this domain occurred after this virus had infected these subjects and stimulated an immune response. A Nef peptide serological assay may be useful for identifying further examples of individuals infected with nef-deleted, attenuated HIV-1 quasispecies and for assessing the evolution of those variants in vivo.


  • Journal: AIDS
  • Published: 16/04/1998
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue: 6
  • Pagination: 555-561

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