No Difference in the Prevalence of HIV-1 gag Cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte-Associated Escape Mutations in Viral Sequences from Early and Late Parts of the HIV-1 Subtype C Pandemic in Botswana


The HIV-1 virus is responsible for causing AIDS, a severe immunodeficiency syndrome. One crucial aspect of HIV-1 infection is its ability to use specific receptors, known as coreceptors, to enter immune cells and replicate. Understanding the coreceptor tropism (ability to use specific coreceptors) of HIV-1 is vital for guiding personalized treatment strategies. In the context of HIV-1 subtype C, which is prevalent in Botswana, predicting coreceptor tropism is of particular interest.

This research focused on developing a predictive model to determine the coreceptor tropism of HIV-1 subtype C strains found in Botswana. The study utilized a vast database of HIV-1 genetic sequences and corresponding clinical data from individuals in the region.

Researchers used advanced bioinformatics and machine learning techniques to analyze the genetic information of the virus and identify patterns associated with specific coreceptor tropism. By examining these patterns, the team aimed to build a reliable model capable of predicting whether a given HIV-1 subtype C strain would predominantly use the CCR5 or CXCR4 coreceptor for cell entry.

The outcomes of this research hold significant implications for HIV treatment in Botswana. Knowing the coreceptor tropism of the virus in an individual allows healthcare providers to make more informed decisions regarding antiretroviral therapies. For example, certain medications specifically target the CCR5 coreceptor, making them more effective for patients with R5-tropic strains. On the other hand, patients with X4-tropic strains would benefit from different treatment approaches.

Ultimately, this study contributes data to support providing more options for HIV patients in Botswana, especially those were the current treatment are no longer effective against the virus. By enhancing our understanding of the virus and its interactions with human cells, we move closer to tailoring HIV treatment regimens to individual patients, potentially improving outcomes and quality of life for those living with this challenging disease.

SANTHE is an Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) flagship programme funded by the Science for Africa Foundation through the DELTAS Africa programme; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Gilead Sciences Inc.; and the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT, and Harvard.