Individuals who are homozygous for the 32-bp deletion in the gene coding for the chemokine receptor and major human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) coreceptor CCR5 (CCR5 −/−) lack functional cell surface CCR5 molecules and are relatively resistant to HIV-1 infection. HIV-1 infection in CCR5 −/− individuals, although rare, has been increasingly documented. We now report that the viral quasispecies from one such individual throughout disease is homogenous, T cell line tropic, and phenotypically syncytium inducing (SI); exclusively uses CXCR4; and replicates well in CCR5−/− primary T cells. The recently discovered coreceptors BOB and Bonzo are not used. Although early and persistent SI variants have been described in longitudinal studies, this is the first demonstration of exclusive and persistent CXCR4 usage. With the caveat that the earliest viruses available from this subject were from approximately 4 years following primary infection, these data suggest that HIV-1 infection can be mediated and persistently maintained by viruses which exclusively utilize CXCR4. The lack of evolution toward the available minor coreceptors in this subject underscores the dominant biological roles of the major coreceptors CCR5 and CXCR4. This and two similar subjects (R. Biti, R. Ffrench, J. Young, B. Bennetts, G. Stewart, and T. Liang, Nat. Med. 3:252–253, 1997; I. Theodoreu, L. Meyer, M. Magierowska, C. Katlama, and C. Rouzioux, Lancet 349:1219–1220, 1997) showed relatively rapid CD4+ T-cell declines despite average or low initial viral RNA load. Since viruses which use CXCR4 exclusively cannot infect macrophages, these data have implications for the relative infection of the T-cell compartment versus the macrophage compartment in vivo and for the development of CCR5-based therapeutics.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/stephen-obrien/246/