Bottlenecks in HIV-1 transmission: insights from the study of founder viruses

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2015 Jul;13(7):414-25. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3471. Epub 2015 Jun 8.


HIV-1 infection typically results from the transmission of a single viral variant, the transmitted/founder (T/F) virus. Studies of these HIV-1 variants provide critical information about the transmission bottlenecks and the selective pressures acting on the virus in the transmission fluid and in the recipient tissues. These studies reveal that T/F virus phenotypes are shaped by stochastic and selective forces that restrict transmission and may be targets for prevention strategies. In this Review, we highlight how studies of T/F viruses contribute to a better understanding of the biology of HIV-1 transmission and discuss how these findings affect HIV-1 prevention strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Glycosylation
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism


  • Viral Proteins