Semen-specific genetic characteristics of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 env.
ABSTRACT: Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in the male genital tract may comprise virus produced locally in addition to virus transported from the circulation. Virus produced in the male genital tract may be genetically distinct, due to tissue-specific cellular characteristics and immunological pressures. HIV-1 env sequences derived from paired blood and semen samples from the Los Alamos HIV Sequence Database were analyzed to ascertain a male genital tract-specific viral signature. Machine learning algorithms could predict seminal tropism based on env sequences with accuracies exceeding 90%, suggesting that a strong genetic signature does exist for virus replicating in the male genital tract. Additionally, semen-derived viral populations exhibited constrained diversity (P < 0.05), decreased levels of positive selection (P < 0.025), decreased CXCR4 coreceptor utilization, and altered glycosylation patterns. Our analysis suggests that the male genital tract represents a distinct selective environment that contributes to the apparent genetic bottlenecks associated with the sexual transmission of HIV-1.
Project description:The genital tract of individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is an anatomic compartment that supports local HIV-1 and cytomegalovirus (CMV) replication. This study investigated the association of seminal CMV replication with changes in HIV-1 clonal expansion, evolution and phylogenetic compartmentalization between blood and semen. Fourteen paired blood and semen samples were analyzed from four untreated subjects. Clonal sequences (n?=?607) were generated from extracted HIV-1 RNA (env C2-V3 region), and HIV-1 and CMV levels were measured in the seminal plasma by real-time PCR. Sequence alignments were evaluated for: (i) viral compartmentalization between semen and blood samples using Slatkin-Maddison and F(ST) methods, (ii) different nucleotide substitution rates in semen and blood, and (iii) association between proportions of clonal HIV-1 sequences in each compartment and seminal CMV levels. Half of the semen samples had detectable CMV DNA, with at least one CMV positive sample for each patient. Seminal CMV DNA levels correlated positively with seminal HIV-1 RNA levels (Spearman P?=?0.05). A trend towards an association between compartmentalization of HIV-1 sequences sampled from blood and semen and presence of seminal CMV was observed (Cochran Q test P?=?0.12). Evolutionary rates between semen and blood HIV-1 populations did not differ significantly, and there was no significant association between seminal CMV DNA levels and the frequency of non-unique clonal HIV-1 sequences in the semen. In conclusion, the effects of CMV replication on HIV-1 viral and immunologic dynamics within the male genital tract are not significant enough to perturb evolution or disrupt compartmentalization in the genital tract.
Project description:HIV is shed in semen but the anatomic site of virus entry into the genital secretions is unknown. We determined viral RNA (vRNA) levels and the envelope gene sequence in the SIVmac 251 viral populations in the genital tract and semen of 5 adult male rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) that were infected after experimental penile SIV infection. Paired blood and semen samples were collected from 1-9 weeks after infection and the monkeys were necropsied eleven weeks after infection. The axillary lymph nodes, testes, epididymis, prostate, and seminal vesicles were collected and vRNA levels and single-genome analysis of the SIVmac251 env variants was performed. At the time of semen collection, blood vRNA levels were between 3.09 and 7.85 log10 vRNA copies/ml plasma. SIV RNA was found in the axillary lymph nodes of all five monkeys and in 3 of 5 monkeys, all tissues examined were vRNA positive. In these 3 monkeys, vRNA levels (log10 SIVgag copies/ug of total tissue RNA) in the axillary lymph node (6.48 ± 0.50) were significantly higher than in the genital tract tissues: testis (3.67 ± 2.16; p<0.05), epididymis (3.08 ± 1.19; p<0.0001), prostate (3.36 ± 1.30; p<0.01), and seminal vesicle (2.67 ± 1.50; p<0.0001). Comparison of the SIVmac251 env viral populations in blood plasma, systemic lymph node, and genital tract tissues was performed in two of the macaques. Visual inspection of the Neighbor-Joining phylograms revealed that in both animals, all the sequences were generally distributed evenly among all tissue compartments. Importantly, viral populations in the genital tissues were not distinct from those in the systemic tissues. Our findings demonstrate striking similarity in the viral populations in the blood and male genital tract tissues within 3 months of penile SIV transmission.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>A number of men receiving prolonged suppressive highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) still shed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in semen. To investigate whether this seminal shedding may be due to poor drug penetration and/or viral production by long-lived cells within male genital tissues, we analyzed semen and reproductive tissues from macaques chronically infected with simian immunodeficiency virus mac251 (SIVmac251) who were treated for 4 months with HAART, which was intensified over the last 7 weeks with an integrase inhibitor. We showed that a subset of treated animals continued shedding SIV in semen despite efficient HAART. This shedding was not associated with low antiretroviral drug concentrations in semen or in testis, epididymis, seminal vesicles, and prostate. HAART had no significant impact on SIV RNA in the urethra, whereas it drastically reduced SIV RNA levels in the prostate and vas deferens and to a lesser extent in the epididymis and seminal vesicle. The only detectable SIV RNA-positive cells within the male genital tract after HAART were urethral macrophages. SIV DNA levels in genital tissues were not decreased by HAART, suggesting the presence throughout the male genital tract of nonproductively infected cells. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that 4 months of HAART induced variable and limited control of viral infection in the male reproductive organs, particularly in the urethra, and suggest that infected long-lived cells in the male genital tract may be involved in persistent seminal shedding during HAART. These results pave the way for further investigations of male genital organ infection in long-term-treated infected individuals.<h4>Importance</h4>A substantial subset of men receiving prolonged HAART suppressing viral loads in the blood still harbor HIV in semen, and cases of sexual transmission have been reported. To understand the origin of this persistence, we analyzed the semen and male reproductive tissues from SIV-infected macaques treated with HAART. We demonstrated that persistent seminal shedding was not linked to poor drug penetration in semen or semen-producing prostate, seminal vesicle, epididymis, and testis. We revealed that HAART decreased SIV RNA to various extents in all male genital organs, with the exception of the urethra, in which SIV RNA(+) macrophages were observed despite HAART. Importantly, HAART did not impact SIV DNA levels in the male genital organs. These results suggest that infection of male genital organs, and particularly the urethra, could be involved in the release of virus in semen during HAART.
Project description:Transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) usually results in outgrowth of viruses with macrophage-tropic phenotype and consensus non-syncytium-inducing (NSI) V3 loop sequences, despite the presence of virus with broader host range and the syncytium-inducing (SI) phenotype in the blood of many donors. We examined proviruses in contemporaneous peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and non-spermatozoal semen mononuclear cells (NSMC) of five HIV-1-infected individuals to determine if this preferential outgrowth could be due to compartmentalization and thus preferential transmission of viruses of the NSI phenotype from the male genital tract. Phylogenetic reconstructions of approximately 700-bp sequences covering the second constant region through the fifth variable region (C2 to V5) of the viral envelope gene revealed distinct variant populations in the blood versus the semen in two patients with AIDS and in one asymptomatic individual (patient 613), whereas similar variant populations were found in both compartments in two other asymptomatic individuals. Variants with amino acids in the V3 loop that predict the SI phenotype were found in both AIDS patients and in patient 613; however, the distribution of these variants between the two compartments was not consistent. SI variants were found only in the PBMC of one AIDS patient but only in the NSMC of the other, while they were found in both compartments in patient 613. It is therefore unlikely that restriction of SI variants from the male genital tract accounts for the observed NSI transmission bias. Furthermore, no evidence for a semen-specific signature amino acid sequence was detected.
Project description:Previous studies reported associations between neuropathogenesis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) compartmentalization in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and between sexual transmission and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) compartmentalization in semen. It remains unclear, however, how compartmentalization dynamics change over time. To address this, we used statistical methods and Bayesian phylogenetic approaches to reconstruct temporal dynamics of HIV migration between blood and CSF and between blood and the male genital tract. We investigated 11 HIV-infected individuals with paired semen and blood samples and 4 individuals with paired CSF and blood samples. Aligned partial HIV env sequences were analyzed by (1) phylogenetic reconstruction, using a Bayesian Markov-chain Monte Carlo approach; (2) evaluation of viral compartmentalization, using tree-based and distance-based methods; and (3) analysis of migration events, using a discrete Bayesian asymmetric phylogeographic approach of diffusion with Markov jump counts estimation. Finally, we evaluated potential correlates of viral gene flow across anatomical compartments. We observed bidirectional replenishment of viral compartments and asynchronous peaks of viral migration from and to blood over time, suggesting that disruption of viral compartment is transient and directionally selected. These findings imply that viral subpopulations in anatomical sites are an active part of the whole viral population and that compartmental reservoirs could have implications in future eradication studies.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Although indirect evidence suggests the male genital tract as a possible source of persistent HIV shedding in semen during antiretroviral therapy, this phenomenon is poorly understood due to the difficulty of sampling semen-producing organs in HIV+ asymptomatic individuals. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Using a range of molecular and cell biological techniques, this study investigates SIV infection within reproductive organs of macaques during the acute and chronic stages of the disease. We demonstrate for the first time the presence of SIV in the testes, epididymides, prostate and seminal vesicles as early as 14 days post-inoculation. This infection persists throughout the chronic stage and positively correlates with blood viremia. The prostate and seminal vesicles appear to be the most efficiently infected reproductive organs, followed by the epididymides and testes. Within the male genital tract, mostly T lymphocytes and a small number of germ cells harbour SIV antigens and RNA. In contrast to the other organs studied, the testis does not display an immune response to the infection. Testosteronemia is transiently increased during the early phase of the infection but spermatogenesis remains unaffected. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The present study reveals that SIV infection of the macaque male genital tract is an early event and that semen-producing organs display differential infection levels and immune responses. These results help elucidate the origin of HIV in semen and constitute an essential base to improving the design of antiretroviral therapies to eradicate virus from semen.
Project description:Because semen is a major vehicle for the sexual transmission of HIV-1, control of viral replication within the sanctuary of the male genital tract should be a goal of antiretroviral therapy. Local immune responses, virus specific factors, and the degree of viral and cellular trafficking all appear to be important in controlling viral replication and evolution. However, the most important factor influencing viral replication and evolution within the male genital tract may be the disposition of antiretroviral agents into genital tissues and fluids. This review proposes possible mechanisms of antiretroviral distribution into the male genital tract by using other sanctuary barriers; such as the placenta, renal tubules, and blood-brain barrier; as models. In addition, this review summarises recent clinical studies regarding the disposition of currently available antiretroviral drugs into the seminal plasma and discusses some of the difficulties in interpreting drug concentration in the genital tract.
Project description:To better understand the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), the genetic characteristics of blood and genital viruses from males were compared to those of the imputed founding virus population in their female partners. Initially serodiscordant heterosexual African couples with sequence-confirmed male-to-female HIV-1 transmission and blood and genital specimens collected near the time of transmission were studied. Single viral templates from blood plasma and genital tract RNA and DNA were sequenced across HIV-1 env gp160. Eight of 29 couples examined yielded viral sequences from both tissues. Analysis of these couples' sequences demonstrated, with one exception, that the women's founding viral populations arose from a single viral variant and were CCR5 tropic, even though CXCR4 variants were detected within four males. The median genetic distance of the imputed most recent common ancestor of the women's founder viruses showed that they were closer to the semen viruses than to the blood viruses of their transmitting male partner, but this finding was biased by detection of a greater number of viral clades in the blood. Using multiple assays, the blood and genital viruses were consistently found to be compartmentalized in only two of eight men. No distinct amino acid signatures in the men's viruses were found to link to the women's founders, nor did the women's env sequences have shorter variable loops or fewer N-linked glycosylation sites. The lack of selective factors, except for coreceptor tropism, is consistent with others' findings in male-to-female and high-risk transmissions. The infrequent compartmentalization between the transmitters' blood and semen viruses suggests that cell-free blood virus likely includes HIV-1 sequences representative of those of viruses in semen.IMPORTANCE Mucosal transmissions account for the majority of HIV-1 infections. Identification of the viral characteristics associated with transmission would facilitate vaccine design. This study of HIV strains from transmitting males and their seroconverting female partners found that the males' genital tract viruses were rarely distinct from the blood variants. The imputed founder viruses in women were genetically similar to both the blood and genital tract variants of their male partners, indicating a lack of evidence for genital tract-specific lineages. These findings suggest that targeting vaccine responses to variants found in blood are likely to also protect from genital tract variants.
Project description:Multiple viruses coinfect the male genital tract, influencing each other’s replication and perhaps affecting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pathogenesis and disease progression.This study included 453 longitudinal seminal samples from 195 HIV-infected men from the San Diego Primary Infection Resource Consortium and 67 seminal samples from HIV-negative healthy controls. Seminal HIV RNA and DNA from 7 human herpesviruses (HHVs) were measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Longitudinal shedding rates were determined by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. Predictors of viral shedding were determined using backwards selection in a multivariable generalized estimating equation model.HIV-infected participants presented significantly increased rates of seminal HHV shedding compared with HIV-uninfected controls. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) were the most commonly detected HHV in semen of HIV-infected participants. Persistent shedding was more common for CMV and EBV when compared to other HHVs. With exception of HHV-7, HHV shedding was not significantly influenced by HIV RNA levels, CD4+ cell counts, or antiretroviral therapy. Presence of CMV, EBV, and herpes simplex virus (HSV) were independent predictors of genital HIV RNA shedding after adjusting for plasma HIV RNA and longitudinal measurements.Seminal replication of multiple HHVs is common in our HIV primary infection cohort. Genital replication of CMV and EBV was the most common and was significantly associated with seminal HIV RNA shedding. Prevalence of HSV shedding was lower and mostly intermittent, but its association with seminal HIV RNA was the strongest. Understanding the complex viral milieu in semen is important for HIV transmission but might also play a role in HIV pathogenesis and disease progression.
Project description:HIV-1 sexual transmission occurs mostly through contaminated semen, which is a complex mixture of soluble factors with immunoregulatory functions and cells. It is well established that semen cells from HIV-1-infected men are able to produce the virus and that are harnessed to efficiently interact with mucosal barriers exposed during sexual intercourse. Several cofactors contribute to semen infectivity and may enhance the risk of HIV-1 transmission to a partner by increasing local HIV-1 replication in the male genital tract, thereby increasing the number of HIV-1-infected cells and the local HIV-1 shedding in semen. The introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy has improved the life expectancy of HIV-1 infected individuals; however, there is evidence that systemic viral suppression does not always reflect full viral suppression in the seminal compartment. This review focus on the role semen leukocytes play in HIV-1 transmission and discusses implications of the increased resistance of cell-mediated transmission to immune-based prevention strategies.