The rate of development of disease varies considerably among human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected children. The reasons for these observed differences are not clearly understood but must probably depend on the dynamic interplay between the HIV-1 quasispecies virus population and the immune constraints imposed by the host. To study the relationship between disease progression and genetic diversity, we analyzed the evolution of viral sequences within six perinatally infected children by examining proviral sequences spanning the C2 through V5 regions of the viral envelope gene by PCR of blood samples obtained at sequential visits. PCR product DNAs from four sample time points per child were cloned, and 10 to 13 clones from each sample were sequenced. Greater genetic distances relative to the time of infection were found for children with low virion-associated RNA burdens and slow progression to disease relative to those found for children with high virion-associated RNA burdens and rapid progression to disease. The greater branch lengths observed in the phylogenetic reconstructions correlated with a higher accumulation rate of nonsynonymous base substitutions per potential nonsynonymous site, consistent with positive selection for change rather than a difference in replication kinetics. Viral sequences from children with slow progression to disease also showed a tendency to form clusters that associated with different sampling times. These progressive shifts in the viral population were not found in viral sequences from children with rapid progression to disease. Therefore, despite the HIV-1 quasispecies being a diverse, rapidly evolving, and competing population of genetic variants, different rates of genetic evolution could be found under different selective constraints. These data suggest that the evolutionary dynamics exhibited by the HIV-1 quasispecies virus populations are compatible with a Darwinian system evolving under the constraints of natural selection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science