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    Synonymous codon pair deoptimization is an efficient strategy for virus attenuation; however, the underlying mechanism remains controversial. Here, we optimized and deoptimized the codon pair bias (CPB) of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope (env) gene to investigate the influence of env synonymous CPB recoding on virus replication capacity, as well as the potential mechanism. We found that env CPB deoptimization did not always generate attenuation, whereas CPB optimization attenuated virus replication in MT-4 cells. Furthermore, virus attenuation correlated with reduced Env protein production but not with decreased viral RNA synthesis. Remarkably, in our model, increasing the number of CpG dinucleotides in the 5' end of env did not reduce the replication capacity of HIV-1. These results indicate that factors other than CPB or CpG content may have impacted the viral fitness of the synonymously recoded study variants. Our findings provide evidence that CPB recoding-associated attenuation can affect translation efficiency. Moreover, we demonstrated that an increased number of CpGs in the 5' end of HIV-1 env is not always associated with reduced virus replication capacity.


    Ana Jordan-Paiz, Sandra Franco, Miguel Angel Martinez. Synonymous Codon Pair Recoding of the HIV-1 env Gene Affects Virus Replication Capacity. Cells. 2021 Jun 29;10(7)

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    PMID: 34209946

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