Background: The findings of frequent circulation of HIV-1 subclade F1 viruses and the scarcity of BF1 recombinant viruses based on pol subgenomic fragment sequencing among blood donors in Pernambuco (PE), Northeast of Brazil, were reported recently. Here, we aimed to determine whether the classification of these strains (n = 26) extends to the whole genome sequences.
Methods: Five overlapping amplicons spanning the HIV near full-length genomes (NFLGs) were PCR amplified from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of 26 blood donors. The amplicons were molecularly bar-coded, pooled, and sequenced by Illumina paired-end protocol. The prevalence of viral variants containing drug resistant mutations (DRMs) was compared between plasma and PBMCs.
Results: Of the 26 samples studied, 20 NFLGs and 4 partial fragments were de novo assembled into contiguous sequences and successfully subtyped. Two distinct BF1 recombinant profiles designated CRF70_BF1 and CRF71_BF1, with 4 samples in profile I and 11 in profile II were detected and thus constitute two novel recombinant forms circulating in PE. Evidence of dual infections was detected in four patients co-infected with distinct HIV-1 subtypes. According to our estimate, the new CRF71_BF1 accounts for 10% of the HIV-1 circulating strains among blood donors in PE. Discordant data between the plasma and PBMCs-virus were found in 15 of 24 donors. Six of these strains displayed major DRMs only in PBMCs and four of which had detectable DRMs changes at prevalence between 1-20% of the sequenced population.
Conclusions: The high percentage of the new RF71_BF1 and other BF1 recombinants found among blood donors in Pernambuco, coupled with high rates of transmitted DRMs and dual infections confirm the need for effective surveillance to monitor the prevalence and distribution of HIV variants in a variety of settings in Brazil.