Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) increasing molecular diversity and emergence of drug resistant mutants remain a major concern in China. Enfuvirtide (ENF/T-20) is the first entry inhibitor used in patients failing highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). However, data on HIV-1 gp41genetic diversity and primary ENF resistance-associated mutations among treatment-naïve patients in China is limited. The objective was to identify molecular diversity and ENF resistance patterns of HIV-1 in southern China, using envelope (env) gp41 sequences and bioinformatics tools, which may help optimize antiretroviral therapy.
Methods: From November 2018 to January 2019, 439 blood plasma samples from ENF-naïve patients were collected from Shenzhen, Wuhan and Chongqing, of which 396 HIV env regions were sequenced and subtyped, and were performed the analysis of drug resistance-associated mutations (DRMs).
Results: The main subtypes were circulating recombinant form (CRF) 01_AE (30.6 %) and CRF07_BC (48.7 %). CRF55_01B had been the fourth subtype in the study, and many rare CRFs were observed. Notably, CRF02_AG and CRF_BF strains typically found in Africa and US respectively were identified amongst Chinese patients. Known DRMs were detected in 27.5 % (109/396) of ENF treatment-naïve patients. One major DRM (L44 M), many secondary DRMs (including N126 K, E137 K, S138A), and lots of polymorphisms were found in the study, which have been proved to elevate resistance to ENF.
Conclusions: HIV-1 molecular diversity was observed in the study, which indicating that HIV-1 variability is becoming increasingly complex in southern China. A diverse set of primary DRMs discovered in this study described the serious threat to ART, which reminds us the urgent need of timely surveillance of HIV-1 viral diversity and drug resistance in China.
Keywords: Drug resistance-associated mutations; Enfuvirtide; Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); Molecular diversity; Subtypes.
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