Droplet-microfluidics-assisted sequencing of HIV proviruses and their integration sites in cells from people on antiretroviral therapy

Nat Biomed Eng. 2022 Mar 28. doi: 10.1038/s41551-022-00864-8. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) integrates its genome into that of infected cells and may enter an inactive state of reversible latency that cannot be targeted using antiretroviral therapy. Sequencing such a provirus and the adjacent host junctions in individual cells may elucidate the mechanisms of the persistence of infected cells, but this is difficult owing to the 150-million-fold higher amount of background human DNA. Here we show that full-length proviruses connected to their contiguous HIV-host DNA junctions can be assembled via a high-throughput microfluidic assay where droplet-based whole-genome amplification of HIV DNA in its native context is followed by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to tag droplets containing proviruses for sequencing. We assayed infected cells from people with HIV receiving suppressive antiretroviral therapy, resulting in the detection and sequencing of paired proviral genomes and integration sites, 90% of which were not recovered by commonly used nested-PCR methods. The sequencing of individual proviral genomes with their integration sites could improve the genetic analysis of persistent HIV-infected cell reservoirs.