The geographical distribution of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtypes show, with the exception of some African Countries, a specific pattern. However, the significant phenomenon of migration to Western Countries, coupled to inter-ethnic blending, may result in a constant introduction and spread of novel subtypes and/or recombinant forms in previously homogeneous HIV-1 epidemics. The need to identify and trace these events prompted the development of a rapid and specific bio-molecular tool for the HIV-1 screening, based on the well-established Heteroduplex Mobility Assay (HMA). This modified version of HMA (rHMA) has been designed to detect, by a short electrophoretic analysis, HIV-1 isolates remarkably divergent form the local predominant clade, for subsequent more accurate genetic and phylogenetic analyses. The method has been validated for both C2-V5 region of env gene and the p24-p7 region of the gag gene, by proof-of-concept experiments performed on a panel of reference standards representing the globally most prevalent HIV-1 subtypes, and applied to screen Italian and Ugandan field isolates. The rHMA experimental conditions identified in this study have been shown to be specific and reliable for both sub-genomic regions of each subtype used. In the context of nationwide monitoring programs, the rHMA may represent a powerful tool for the HIV-1 molecular surveillance in both developed and developing countries, particularly those characterized by mono/dual-clade HIV-1 epidemic, which is relevant for epidemiological studies and for the development of preventive and therapeutic strategies.
- Heteroduplex Mobility Assay (rHMA)
- Rapid molecular epidemiology screening
ASJC Scopus subject areas