The envelope (env) glycoprotein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) determines several viral properties (e.g., coreceptor usage, cell tropism, and cytopathicity) and is a major target of antiviral immune responses. Most investigations on env have been conducted on subtype-B viral strains, prevalent in North America and Europe. Our study aimed to analyze env genes of subtype-E viral strains, prevalent in Asia and Africa, with a nonhuman primate model for lentivirus infection and AIDS. To this end, we constructed a simian immunodeficiency virus/HIV-1 subtype-E (SHIV) recombinant clone by replacing the env ectodomain of the SHIV-33 clone with the env ectodomain from the subtype-E strain HIV-1(CAR402), which was isolated from an individual in the Central African Republic. Virus from this recombinant clone, designated SHIV-E-CAR, replicated efficiently in macaque peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Accordingly, juvenile macaques were inoculated with cell-free SHIV-E-CAR by the intravenous or intravaginal route; virus replicated in these animals but did not produce hematological abnormalities. In an attempt to elicit the pathogenic potential of the recombinant clone, we serially passaged this viral clone via transfusion of blood and bone marrow through juvenile macaques to produce SHIV-E-P4 (fourth-passage virus). The serially passaged virus established productive infection and CD4+ T-cell depletion in juvenile macaques inoculated by either the intravenous or the intravaginal route. Determination of the coreceptor usage of SHIV-E-CAR and serially passaged SHIV-E-P4 indicated that both of these viruses utilized CXCR4 as a coreceptor. In summary, the serially passaged SHIV subtype-E chimeric virus will be important for studies aimed at developing a nonhuman primate model for analyzing the functions of subtype-E env genes in viral transmission and pathogenesis and for vaccine challenge experiments with macaques immunized with HIV-1 env antigens.
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