Molecular and phylogenetic characterization of HIV variants in Italian primary HIV infections (PHI): Identification of non-B subtype variants

L. Buonaguro, M. Tagliamonte, M. L. Tornesello, D. Ciuffreda, B. Capiluppi, L. Lopalco, A. Lazzarin, G. Tambussi, Franco M. Buonaguro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The distribution of Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1 (HIV-1) clades is evaluated in primary HIV-1 infections (PHls) occurring through sexual transmission in Lombardia, the Italian region with the highest prevalence/incidence of HIV-1 infections. The two primary inclusion parameters for enrollment were sexual transmission and <1 year seroconversion. Thirty-four enrolled patients have been analysed so far at the molecular level, to characterize their infecting HIV-1 population. Two HIV-1 genomic regions with different rates of genetic variability, the hypervariable C2-V3 fragment of the env gene and the conserved 5′ end of the gag p17, were amplified by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and characterized by direct DNA sequence analysis. Pairwise nucleotide alignment and phylogenetic analyses show that, although with a high range of nucleotide variability, 32 out of the 34 HIV-1 isolates identified in this PHI cohort fall under the clade B genotype. The two remaining isolates, detected in a couple formed by a Nigerian woman and her Italian partner, consistently cluster with clade G standards in both sub-genomic regions. The amino acid sequences confirm this classification, showing clade-specific residues both in the V3 and p17 regions. These data suggest that the B clade is still prevalently associated with acute primary HIV-1 infections occurring in Italy through sexual transmission. However, the significant intra-clade variability and the identification of non-B clades strongly indicate the relevance of continuous molecular monitoring of the HIV-1 isolates circulating in Italy, for prognostic evaluations as well as preventive and therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-48
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • env
  • Gag
  • Heterosexual transmission
  • HIV-1
  • Phylogenetic analysis
  • Primary infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Physiology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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