Rapid genetic characterization of HIV type 1 strains from four World Health Organization-sponsored vaccine evaluation sites using a heteroduplex mobility assay. WHO Network for HIV Isolation and Characterization

AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1994 Nov;10(11):1345-53. doi: 10.1089/aid.1994.10.1345.


To assist in the preparation for the testing of vaccines against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) we, as part of the World Health Organization Network for HIV Isolation and Characterization (WHO-NHIC), evaluated the genotypic variation of HIV-1 in cohorts from Brazil, Rwanda, Thailand, and Uganda. Here we report the results from a pilot study of 65 HIV-1-infected individuals. In all cases in which viral envelope gene fragments could be amplified by polymerase chain reaction, subtypes could be assigned using a heteroduplex mobility assay (HMA)1 by comparison with HIV-1 strains representing six HIV-1 envelope subtypes. All subtype classifications matched those found by envelope gene sequencing. Phylogenetic relationships were further clarified by heteroduplex formation between samples within each subtype. A relatively homogeneous subtype E virus population predominated over subtype B viruses in the sample set from Thailand. Viruses from the other countries were also limited to one or two subtypes but were more divergent within each subtype. All samples from Rwanda (13/13) and some from Uganda (3/16) were of subtype A; all Brazilian samples were of subtype B, except for one belonging to subtype C; most samples from Uganda (13/16) clustered with the subtype D. Analysis by HMA is therefore applicable for screening of HIV-1 genotypes in countries under consideration for large-scale vaccine trials. It should be generally useful when samples containing at least one variable genetic locus need to be rapidly classified by genotype and/or analyzed for epidemiological clustering.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Vaccines / pharmacology*
  • Base Sequence
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Genes, env
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Genetic Variation
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / classification
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Heteroduplexes / genetics*
  • Nucleic Acid Heteroduplexes / isolation & purification
  • Phylogeny
  • Rwanda / epidemiology
  • Thailand / epidemiology
  • Uganda / epidemiology
  • World Health Organization


  • AIDS Vaccines
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Viral
  • Nucleic Acid Heteroduplexes