Resistance and replicative capacity of HIV-1 strains selected in vivo by long-term enfuvirtide treatment

S. Menzo, A. Castagna, A. Monachetti, H. Hasson, A. Danise, E. Carini, P. Bagnarelli, A. Lazzarin, M. Clementi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Enfuvirtide is the prototype member of a new class of anti HIV-1 agents, the fusion inhibitors (FI). In recent clinical trials, the compound has shown its efficacy in combination with other antiretroviral agents in vivo. However mutant strains resistant to the action of the drug arise quite rapidly in vitro and in vivo. To analyze the process of selection and evolution of HIV-1 strains resistant to enfuvirtide in vivo and to evaluate the impact of resistance on viral fitness, 12 HIV-1 infected subjects treated with T20 (enfuvirtide) for at least one year were included in the study. Gp41-coding sequences were amplified from plasma samples of these subjects at baseline and at different time points during treatment. Seven of the 12 subjects showed selection of gp41 mutations under the selective pressure of enfuvirtide. In particular, these mutations clustered in two distinct regions: (i) a mutational hot-spot localized, as previously described, in the first residues of the N-HR domain, with position number 38 as the most heavily mutated, but including also a G36V, a N42D/T, a N43D, a L44M and a L45M; (ii) other mutations were localized further downstream, within N-HR/C-HR junction and in the C-HR. A recombinant assay specifically designed for the determination of HIV-1 phenotype to FI was developed and validated. Using this assay, we observed that all of the 7 mutated clones displayed substantially reduced susceptibility to T20, IC50 ranging from 0.6 to 12.8 ug/ml (>100 fold change). The residues whose mutation was associated with a potent reduction in susceptibility were V38, N42, and N43, other positions such as G36, N44 and L45 playing a minor role. None of the mutant HIV isolates showed cross-resistance to T-1249. By the same method, the HIV-1 replicative capacity of the recombinant clones was tested in the absence of drugs, and for each subject, pre-therapy clones were compared to post-therapy ones. In 3/7 subjects a significant decrease in replicative capacity of the recombinant clones was observed. The phenotypic data from this study suggest that the secondary additional mutations, could be associated with improved resistance or recovery of replicative capacity (compensatory mutations).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-61
Number of pages11
JournalNew Microbiologica
Issue number2 SUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Cnfuvirtide
  • Fitness
  • Phenotype
  • Replicative capacity
  • Resistance mutations
  • T-1249
  • T-20

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Resistance and replicative capacity of HIV-1 strains selected in vivo by long-term enfuvirtide treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this