June 1, 2021  |  

Complete HIV-1 genomes from single molecules: Diversity estimates in two linked transmission pairs using clustering and mutual information.

We sequenced complete HIV-1 genomes from single molecules using Single Molecule, Real- Time (SMRT) Sequencing and derive de novo full-length genome sequences. SMRT sequencing yields long-read sequencing results from individual DNA molecules with a rapid time-to-result. These attributes make it a useful tool for continuous monitoring of viral populations. The single-molecule nature of the sequencing method allows us to estimate variant subspecies and relative abundances by counting methods. We detail mathematical techniques used in viral variant subspecies identification including clustering distance metrics and mutual information. Sequencing was performed in order to better understand the relationships between the specific sequences of transmitted viruses in linked transmission pairs. Samples representing HIV transmission pairs were selected from the Zambia Emory HIV Research Project (Lusaka, Zambia) and sequenced. We examine Single Genome Amplification (SGA) prepped samples and samples containing complex mixtures of genomes. Whole genome consensus estimates for each of the samples were made. Genome reads were clustered using a simple distance metric on aligned reads. Appropriate thresholds were chosen to yield distinct clusters of HIV genomes within samples. Mutual information between columns in the genome alignments was used to measure dependence. In silico mixtures of reads from the SGA samples were made to simulate samples containing exactly controlled complex mixtures of genomes and our clustering methods were applied to these complex mixtures. SMRT Sequencing data contained multiple full-length (greater than 9 kb) continuous reads for each sample. Simple whole genome consensus estimates easily identified transmission pairs. The clustering of the genome reads showed diversity differences between the samples, allowing us to characterize the diversity of the individual quasi-species comprising the patient viral populations across the full genome. Mutual information identified possible dependencies of different positions across the full HIV-1 genome. The SGA consensus genomes agreed with prior Sanger sequencing. Our clustering methods correctly segregated reads to their correct originating genome for the synthetic SGA mixtures. The results open up the potential for reference-agnostic and cost effective full genome sequencing of HIV-1.


June 1, 2021  |  

Rapid sequencing of HIV-1 genomes as single molecules from simple and complex samples.

Background: To better understand the relationships among HIV-1 viruses in linked transmission pairs, we sequenced several samples representing HIV transmission pairs from the Zambia Emory HIV Research Project (Lusaka, Zambia) using Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing. Methods: Single molecules were sequenced as full-length (9.6 kb) amplicons directly from PCR products without shearing. This resulted in multiple, fully-phased, complete HIV-1 genomes for each patient. We examined Single Genome Amplification (SGA) prepped samples, as well as samples containing complex mixtures of genomes. We detail mathematical techniques used in viral variant subspecies identification, including clustering distance metrics and mutual information, which were used to derive multiple de novo full-length genome sequences for each patient. Whole genome consensus estimates for each sample were made. Genome reads were clustered using a simple distance metric on aligned reads. Appropriate thresholds were chosen to yield distinct clusters of HIV-1 genomes within samples. Mutual information between columns in the genome alignments was used to measure dependence. In silico mixtures of reads from the SGA samples were made to simulate samples containing exactly controlled complex mixtures of genomes and our clustering methods were applied to these complex mixtures. Results: SMRT Sequencing data contained multiple full-length (>9 kb) continuous reads for each sample. Simple whole-genome consensus estimates easily identified transmission pairs. Clustering of genome reads showed diversity differences between samples, allowing characterization of the quasi-species diversity comprising the patient viral populations across the full genome. Mutual information identified possible dependencies of different positions across the full HIV-1 genome. The SGA consensus genomes agreed with prior Sanger sequencing. Our clustering methods correctly segregated reads to their correct originating genome for the synthetic SGA mixtures. Conclusions: SMRT Sequencing yields long-read sequencing results from individual DNA molecules with a rapid time-to-result. These attributes make it a useful tool for continuous monitoring of viral populations. The single-molecule nature of the sequencing method allows us to estimate variant subspecies and relative abundances by counting methods. The results open up the potential for reference-agnostic and cost effective full genome sequencing of HIV-1.


April 21, 2020  |  

The replication-competent HIV-1 latent reservoir is primarily established near the time of therapy initiation.

Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) is highly effective at suppressing HIV-1 replication, the virus persists as a latent reservoir in resting CD4+ T cells during therapy. This reservoir forms even when ART is initiated early after infection, but the dynamics of its formation are largely unknown. The viral reservoirs of individuals who initiate ART during chronic infection are generally larger and genetically more diverse than those of individuals who initiate therapy during acute infection, consistent with the hypothesis that the reservoir is formed continuously throughout untreated infection. To determine when viruses enter the latent reservoir, we compared sequences of replication-competent viruses from resting peripheral CD4+ T cells from nine HIV-positive women on therapy to viral sequences circulating in blood collected longitudinally before therapy. We found that, on average, 71% of the unique viruses induced from the post-therapy latent reservoir were most genetically similar to viruses replicating just before ART initiation. This proportion is far greater than would be expected if the reservoir formed continuously and was always long lived. We conclude that ART alters the host environment in a way that allows the formation or stabilization of most of the long-lived latent HIV-1 reservoir, which points to new strategies targeted at limiting the formation of the reservoir around the time of therapy initiation.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

Kaposi Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Glycoprotein H Is Indispensable for Infection of Epithelial, Endothelial, and Fibroblast Cell Types.

Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is an emerging pathogen and is the causative infectious agent of Kaposi sarcoma and two malignancies of B cell origin. To date, there is no licensed KSHV vaccine. Development of an effective vaccine against KSHV continues to be limited by a poor understanding of how the virus initiates acute primary infection in vivo in diverse human cell types. The role of glycoprotein H (gH) in herpesvirus entry mechanisms remains largely unresolved. To characterize the requirement for KSHV gH in the viral life cycle and in determination of cell tropism, we generated and characterized a mutant KSHV in which expression of gH was abrogated. Using a bacterial artificial chromosome containing a complete recombinant KSHV genome and recombinant DNA technology, we inserted stop codons into the gH coding region. We used electron microscopy to reveal that the gH-null mutant virus assembled and exited from cells normally, compared to wild-type virus. Using purified virions, we assessed infectivity of the gH-null mutant in diverse mammalian cell types in vitro Unlike wild-type virus or a gH-containing revertant, the gH-null mutant was unable to infect any of the epithelial, endothelial, or fibroblast cell types tested. However, its ability to infect B cells was equivocal and remains to be investigated in vivo due to generally poor infectivity in vitro Together, these results suggest that gH is critical for KSHV infection of highly permissive cell types, including epithelial, endothelial, and fibroblast cells.IMPORTANCE All homologues of herpesvirus gH studied to date have been implicated in playing an essential role in viral infection of diverse permissive cell types. However, the role of gH in the mechanism of KSHV infection remains largely unresolved. In this study, we generated a gH-null mutant KSHV and provided evidence that deficiency of gH expression did not affect viral particle assembly or egress. Using the gH-null mutant, we showed that gH was indispensable for KSHV infection of epithelial, endothelial, and fibroblast cells in vitro This suggests that gH is an important target for the development of a KSHV prophylactic vaccine to prevent initial viral infection.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies Targeting New Sites of Vulnerability in Hepatitis C Virus E1E2.

Increasing evidence indicates that broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) play an important role in immune-mediated control of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, but the relative contribution of neutralizing antibodies targeting antigenic sites across the HCV envelope (E1 and E2) proteins is unclear. Here, we isolated thirteen E1E2-specific monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) from B cells of a single HCV-infected individual who cleared one genotype 1a infection and then became persistently infected with a second genotype 1a strain. These MAbs bound six distinct discontinuous antigenic sites on the E1 protein, the E2 protein, or the E1E2 heterodimer. Three antigenic sites, designated AS108, AS112 (an N-terminal E1 site), and AS146, were distinct from previously described antigenic regions (ARs) 1 to 5 and E1 sites. Antibodies targeting four sites (AR3, AR4-5, AS108, and AS146) were broadly neutralizing. These MAbs also displayed distinct patterns of relative neutralizing potency (i.e., neutralization profiles) across a panel of diverse HCV strains, which led to complementary neutralizing breadth when they were tested in combination. Overall, this study demonstrates that HCV bNAb epitopes are not restricted to previously described antigenic sites, expanding the number of sites that could be targeted for vaccine development.IMPORTANCE Worldwide, more than 70 million people are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is a leading cause of hepatocellular carcinoma and liver transplantation. Despite the development of potent direct acting antivirals (DAAs) for HCV treatment, a vaccine is urgently needed due to the high cost of treatment and the possibility of reinfection after cure. Induction of multiple broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) that target distinct epitopes on the HCV envelope proteins is one approach to vaccine development. However, antigenic sites targeted by bNAbs in individuals with spontaneous control of HCV have not been fully defined. In this study, we characterize 13 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) from a single person who cleared an HCV infection without treatment, and we identify 3 new sites targeted by neutralizing antibodies. The sites targeted by these MAbs could inform HCV vaccine development. Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


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