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Type I interferons, particularly interferon-alpha (IFN-α), play a vital role in the host's anti-viral defenses by interfering with viral replication. However, the virus rapidly evolves to exploit the IFN-α response for its replication, spread, and pathogenic function. In this study, we attempted to determine IFN-α susceptibility and productivity of infectious transmitted/founder (TF) (n = 8) and non-transmitted (NT) viruses (n = 8) derived from HIV-1 infected infants. Independent experiments were carried out to determine IFN-α resistance, replication fitness, and viral productivity in CD4+ T cells over a short period. In vitro studies showed that TF viruses were resistant to IFN-α during the very near moment of transmission, but in the subsequent time points, they became susceptible to IFN-α. We did not observe much difference in replicative fitness of the TF viruses in cultures treated with and without IFN-α, but the difference was significant in the case of NT viruses obtained from the same individual. Despite increased susceptibility to IFN-α, NT viruses produced more viral particles than TF viruses. Similar results were also obtained in cultures treated with maraviroc (MVC). The study identified unique characteristics of TF viruses thus prompting further investigation into virus-host interaction occurring during the early stages of HIV infection.


Manickam Ashokkumar, Aanand Sonawane, Maike Sperk, Srikanth P Tripathy, Ujjwal Neogi, Luke Elizabeth Hanna. In vitro replicative fitness of early Transmitted founder HIV-1 variants and sensitivity to Interferon alpha. Scientific reports. 2020 Feb 17;10(1):2747

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PMID: 32066770

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