by Chengli Shen, Ming Ding, Deena Ratner, Ronald C. Montelaro, Yue Chen, Phalguni Gupta
Although there are different strains of HIV-1 in a chronically infected individual, only one or limited virus strains are successfully transmitted to a new individual. The reason for this “transmission bottleneck” is as yet unknown. Methodology/Principal Findings
A human cervical explant model was used to measure HIV-1 transmission efficiency of viral strains from chronic infections, and transmitter/founder variants. We also evaluated the genetic characteristics of HIV-1 variants in the inoculums compared to those transmitted across the cervical mucosa. Eight different HIV-1 isolates were used in this study, six chronic isolates and two transmitter/founder viruses. The transmission efficiency of the chronic and transmitter/founder virus isolates and the viral diversity of chronic isolates before and after viral transmission were assessed. The results indicate that transmitter/founder viruses did not display higher transmission efficiency than chronic HIV-1 isolates. Furthermore, no evidence for a difference in diversity was found between the inoculums and transmitted virus strains. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the sequences of variants in the inoculums and those present in transmitted virus intermingled irrespective of co-receptor usage. In addition, the inoculum and transmitted variants had a similar pairwise distance distribution. Conclusion
There was no selection of a single or limited number of viral variants during HIV-1 transmission across the cervical mucosa in the organ culture model, indicating that the cervical mucosa alone may not produce the transmission bottleneck of HIV-1 infection observed in vivo.