HIV-1 envelope sequence patterns have implications for virus cell tropism and for the development of an effective vaccine. To identify the sequence characteristics of recently transmitted HIV-1 isolates in southern Africa, we sequenced the V3-V5 envelope regions of 24 male seroconverters in Harare, Zimbabwe. Each of the sequences clustered with previously reported subtype C isolates and there was a mean 17% intersequence pairwise genetic distance between the Zimbabwean isolates. Three isolates were syncytium inducing (SI). One of the SI isolates had an unusual GIGK crown and a deletion at codon 23; one had the codon 23 deletion alone; and one had a high net positive charge in the V3 loop. The extensive genetic diversity within the envelope of subtype C HIV-1 isolates must be considered in vaccine development. Further analysis of subtype C SI isolates and site-directed mutagenesis experiments are required to determine the molecular basis of SI activity in global HIV-1 isolates.
View details for Web of Science ID 000088006300006
View details for PubMedID 10890359