Differences in chemokine coreceptor usage between genetic subtypes of HIV-1

Virology. 1998 Feb 15;241(2):181-8. doi: 10.1006/viro.1997.8980.


HIV-1 uses chemokine coreceptors for cell entry. CXCR4 is the major coreceptor for T-cell-line-adapted isolates and CCR5 for non-T-cell-line-adapted isolates. This study investigated if coreceptor usage differs between genetic subtypes of HIV-1. Eighty-one primary isolates representing nine different genetic subtypes (A-J, except I) were tested on U87.CD4 glioma cells stably expressing chemokine receptor CCR1, CCR2b, CCR3, CCR5, or CXCR4. Coreceptor usage was compared to biological phenotype of the isolates (rapid/high, syncytium-inducing or slow/low, non-syncytium-inducing) and to clinical and immunological status of the study subjects. CXCR4 usage was perfectly correlated to the biological phenotype for all subtypes; all of 26 isolates with rapid/high phenotype and none of 55 isolates with slow/low phenotype could infect the CXCR4 expressing cell line. Importantly, the CXCR4-positive, rapid/high phenotype was underrepresented among subtype C isolates. Furthermore, dual tropism for CXCR4 and CCR5 was not found among subtype D isolates. Uni- and multivariate analyses indicated that these subtype-specific differences in coreceptor usage were not due to differences in clinical status, CD4 counts, or treatment. This study shows that CXCR4 usage determines the biological phenotype for all subtypes, but that there appear to exist subtype-dependent differences in frequency of usage of certain coreceptors. This opens up the possibility that genetic subtypes may differ in important biological properties such as virulence, tissue tropism, and transmissibility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Genotype
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / genetics
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / metabolism
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / isolation & purification
  • HIV-1 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, CCR5 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120
  • HIV envelope protein gp120 (305-321)
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Receptors, CCR5
  • Receptors, CXCR4