Evolution and probable transmission of intersubtype recombinant human immunodeficiency virus type 1 in a Zambian couple

Mika O. Salminen, Jean K. Carr, David L. Robertson, Patricia Hegerich, Deanna Gotte, Christine Koch, Eric Sanders-Buell, Feng Gao, Paul M. Sharp, Beatrice H. Hahn, Donald S. Burke, Francine E. McCutchan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The extraordinary genetic diversity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) results from the introduction of mutations by an error-prone reverse transcriptase and from recombination of the two RNA genomes packaged in the virion during the synthesis of proviral DNA. The occurrence of multiple, genetically distant HIV-1 subtypes and their geographic intermixing set up conditions for dramatic, rather than gradual, changes in genotype whenever genomes from different subtypes are copackaged in virions. Here we describe, for the first time, the sequential generation of multiple different, but related, intersubtype HIV-1 recombinants within an infected individual. Full-length gag and env genes were recovered directly from peripheral blood mononuclear cells or from primary virus cultures, using serial blood samples from a Zambian woman and a sample from her spouse. DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis established that two different A/C recombinant forms of HIV-1 predominated at two time points in the woman. A related but distinct recombinant HIV-I was recovered from her spouse. Intersubtype recombination apparently played a central role in the evolution of HIV-1 in this couple and may contribute substantially to the rapid emergence of HIV-1 variants whenever mixed-subtype HIV-1 infections occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2647-2655
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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