Heteroduplex mobility assay and phylogenetic analysis of V3 region sequences of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 isolates from Gulu, Northern Uganda

L. Buonaguro, E. Del Gaudio, M. Monaco, D. Greco, P. Corti, E. Beth-Giraldo, F. M. Buonaguro, G. Giraldo, M. Tamburini, G. Castello, S. Declich, M. Lukwiya, B. Biryamwaho, R. Downing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We analyzed peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 19 asymptomatic seropositive pregnant women from the district of Gulu in northern Uganda. A 700-bp fragment of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) env gene, including the V3-V5 region, was successfully amplified by PCR from 10 samples (52.6%) and was subsequently subjected to both a heteroduplex mobility assay for genetic screening and subtyping and DNA sequence analysis (approximately 300 bp) for nucleotide comparison and phylogenetic studies. The results show the presence of HIV-1A and D subtypes (or clades) in this rural area, with the prevalence of the A subtype (8 of 10) being greater than that of the D (2 of 10) subtype, which is unlike what was previously reported for Uganda. By pairwise comparison analysis, the percentage of sequence divergence among samples within each subtype is low (the average intrasubtype divergence is 15.8%), but it is significantly higher between the two subtypes (the average intersubtype divergence is 23%). At the amino acid level, the two HIV-1 subtypes show distinct tetramers at the apex of the V3 loop and, in particular, QPGQ in clade A and GPGR in clade D. In addition, 10 of the 19 viral samples (52.6%) have been isolated in vitro. Nine of the samples have been classified as rapid/high, which reflects a high in vitro replication capacity for the HIV-1 field isolates from this country, even for those obtained from seropositive asymptomatic individuals. These observations, despite being made on the basis of a limited sample size, show a modest degree of genetic divergence among samples isolated in the last 4 years in this country by comparison with those based on the 1990 data on HIV-1 isolates from Kampala. The results reported here are, therefore, extremely relevant for Uganda, which is one of the selected World Health Organization field sites for future HIV-1 vaccine evaluation programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7971-7981
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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