Selection by AZT and rapid replacement in the absence of drugs of HIV type 1 resistant to multiple nucleoside analogs

V. V. Lukashov*, R. Huismans, M. F. Jebbink, S. A. Danner, R. J. De Boer, J. Goudsmit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We studied the intrahost evolution and dynamics of a multidrug-resistant HIV-1, which contains an insertion of two amino acids (aa) and several aa changes within the reverse transcriptase (RT) gene. From an individual receiving intermittent therapy, sequences of 231 full-length molecular clones of HIV-1 RT were obtained from serum-derived viruses at 12 consecutive time points over a period of 6 years, 17 to 20 clones per time point. In the 3.5-year period prior to the first course of therapy, only wild-type (wt) viruses were found. As soon as 6 months after the start of zidovudine (AZT) monotherapy, all viruses contained an insertion of two aa between positions 68 and 69 of the RT and aa changes at positions 67 and 215, a combination conferring resistance to multiple nucleoside analogs. After termination of therapy, the insertion mutants were rapidly and completely replaced by the wt viruses. In turn, the insertion mutants replaced the wt viruses after initiation of therapy with 3TC, d4T, and saquinavir. After termination of triple therapy, the wt viruses completely replaced the mutants within 1 month, which is markedly faster than has been observed earlier for the replacement of AZT-resistant viruses. Fast replacements of the mutant virus populations after termination of therapy indicate gross competitive disadvantage of the insertion mutant in the absence of therapy, which we estimated by using several models. The insertion mutants attained high virus loads, demonstrating that virus load cannot be used as a direct measure of virus fitness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-818
Number of pages12
JournalAIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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