Molecular Mechanism of HIV-1 Infection: Role of Viral and Host Determinants
Committee ChairAhmad, Nafees
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMost neonates and infants acquire HIV-1 infection as a result of mother-to-infant (vertical) transmission and are infected with the minor genotype with macrophage-tropic (R5) phenotype of the mother. Several studies suggest that infected infants have a higher viral load and develop AIDS more rapidly than infected adults, but the mechanisms of this differential HIV-1 infection are not known. The hypothesis of my dissertation is that viral determinants and differential cellular gene expression profiles influence differential HIV-1 replication and disease progression seen in neonates vs. adults. This work includes characterization of viral determinants, including reverse transcriptase (RT) and envelope gp120, and host determinants, including cellular transcription factors and cytokines that may be associated with differential HIV-1 replication in infants and adults. The characterization of HIV-1 RT gene from five mother-infant pairs following vertical transmission revealed a low degree of viral heterogeneity and a high conservation of intact open reading frames comprising functional domains and CTL epitopes. Biological characterization of HIV-1 subtype C envelope gp120 from infected patients from India was performed by constructing chimeras with HIV-1 subtype B. Infection of cell lines and primary cells with chimeric subtype C/B virus showed that the subtype C env gp120 from patients contributed to an increased rate of virus entry, which correlated with higher replication efficiencies and virus production in subtype C env chimeras compared with subtype B env chimeras and subtype B primary isolates. Higher level of viremia with subtype C infection compared with subtype B may be responsible for its rapid disease progression and spread. The mechanisms of HIV-1 replication in neonatal and adult cells was determined and found that differential HIV-1 replication in neonatal and adult cells is influenced at the level of HIV-1 gene expression. Evaluation of cellular gene expression profile of neonatal and adult mononuclear cells performed by microarray analysis identified several factors, including transcription factors, cytokines and matrix metalloproteinases that may be associated with increased HIV-1 gene expression and replication in neonates and infants. Taken together, these results provide new insights into the understanding of mecahnsims of HIV-1 vertical transmission, pathogenesis and disease progression in infected neonates and infants.
Degree ProgramMicrobiology & Immunology