New Approaches to Multi-Parametric HIV-1 Genetics Using Multiple Displacement Amplification: Determining the What, How, and Where of the HIV-1 Reservoir

Viruses. 2021 Dec 10;13(12):2475. doi: 10.3390/v13122475.


Development of potential HIV-1 curative interventions requires accurate characterization of the proviral reservoir, defined as host-integrated viral DNA genomes that drive rebound of viremia upon halting ART (antiretroviral therapy). Evaluation of such interventions necessitates methods capable of pinpointing the rare, genetically intact, replication-competent proviruses within a background of defective proviruses. This evaluation can be achieved by identifying the distinct integration sites of intact proviruses within host genomes and monitoring the dynamics of these proviruses and host cell lineages over longitudinal sampling. Until recently, molecular genetic approaches at the single proviral level have been generally limited to one of a few metrics, such as proviral genome sequence/intactness, host-proviral integration site, or replication competency. New approaches, taking advantage of MDA (multiple displacement amplification) for WGA (whole genome amplification), have enabled multiparametric proviral characterization at the single-genome level, including proviral genome sequence, host-proviral integration site, and phenotypic characterization of the host cell lineage, such as CD4 memory subset and antigen specificity. In this review, we will examine the workflow of MDA-augmented molecular genetic approaches to study the HIV-1 reservoir, highlighting technical advantages and flexibility. We focus on a collection of recent studies in which investigators have used these approaches to comprehensively characterize intact and defective proviruses from donors on ART, investigate mechanisms of elite control, and define cell lineage identity and antigen specificity of infected CD4+ T cell clones. The highlighted studies exemplify how these approaches and their future iterations will be key in defining the targets and evaluating the impacts of HIV curative interventions.

Keywords: HIV reservoir; clonal expansion; intact proviral genomes; integration sites analysis; multiple displacement amplification; near full-length genome amplification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology*
  • Defective Viruses / genetics
  • Genome, Viral
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV Non-Progressors
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Memory T Cells / virology
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques
  • Proviruses / genetics*
  • Proviruses / physiology
  • Viremia
  • Virus Integration
  • Virus Latency


  • Anti-HIV Agents