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Sequence change in different hypervariable regions of the external membrane glycoprotein (gp120) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) was studied. Viral RNA associated with cell-free virus particles circulating in plasma and proviral DNA present in HIV-infected peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were extracted from blood samples of two currently asymptomatic hemophiliac patients over a 5-year period. HIV sequences were amplified by polymerase chain reaction to allow analysis in the V3, V4, and V5 hypervariable regions of gp120. Rapid sequence change, consisting of regular replacements by a succession of distinct viral populations, was found in both plasma virus and PBMC provirus populations. Significant differences between the frequencies of sequence variants in DNA and RNA populations within the same sample were observed, indicating that at any one time point, the predominant plasma virus variants were antigenically distinct from viruses encoded by HIV DNA sequences in PBMCs. How these findings contribute to current models of HIV pathogenesis is discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of virology

Publication Date





6266 - 6276


Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.


Lymphocytes, Humans, Proviruses, HIV-1, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Hemophilia A, HIV Envelope Protein gp120, Oligonucleotides, Antisense, Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Phylogeny, Amino Acid Sequence, Base Sequence, Genes, env, Molecular Sequence Data, Genetic Variation, Biological Evolution