Maraviroc (MVC) is an allosteric inhibitor of HIV-1 entry, and is the only CCR5 antagonist licensed for use as an anti-HIV-1 therapeutic. It acts by altering the conformation of the CCR5 extracellular loops, rendering CCR5 unrecognizable by the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Env). This study aimed to understand the mechanisms underlying the development of MVC resistance in HIV-1-infected patients. To do this, we obtained longitudinal plasma samples from 8 subjects who experienced treatment failure with phenotypically verified, CCR5-tropic MVC resistance. We then cloned and characterized HIV-1 Envs (n=77) from plasma of pre-treatment (n=36) and treatment failure (n=41) samples. Our results showed variation in the magnitude of MVC resistance as measured by reductions in maximal percent inhibition of Env-pseudotyped viruses, which was more pronounced in 293-Affinofile cells compared to other cells with similar levels of CCR5 expression. Amino acid determinants of MVC resistance localized to the V3 Env region and were strain-specific. We also observed minimal cross-resistance to other CCR5 antagonists by MVC-resistant strains. We conclude that 293-Affinofile cells are highly sensitive for detecting and measuring MVC resistance through a mechanism that is CCR5-dependent yet independent of CCR5 expression levels. The strain-specific nature of resistance mutations suggests that sequence based diagnostics and prognostics will need to be more sophisticated than simple position scoring to be useful for managing resistance in subjects taking MVC. Finally, the minimal levels of cross-resistance suggests that recognition of the MVC-modified form of CCR5 does not necessarily lead to recognition of other antagonist-modified forms of CCR5.
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