Characterization of Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor-Associated Mutations in the RNase H Region of HIV-1 Subtype C Infected Individuals

The South African national treatment programme includes nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) in both first and second line highly active antiretroviral therapy regimens. Mutations in the RNase H domain have been associated with resistance to NRTIs but primarily in HIV-1 subtype B studies. Here, we investigated the prevalence and association of RNase H mutations with NRTI resistance in sequences from HIV-1 subtype C infected individuals. RNase H sequences from 112 NRTI treated but virologically failing individuals and 28 antiretroviral therapy (ART)-naive individuals were generated and analysed. In addition, sequences from 359 subtype C ART-naive sequences were downloaded from Los Alamos database to give a total of 387 sequences from ART-naive individuals for the analysis. Fisher's exact test was used to identify mutations and Bayesian network learning was applied to identify novel NRTI resistance mutation pathways in RNase H domain. The mutations A435L, S468A, T470S, L484I, A508S, Q509L, L517I, Q524E and E529D were more prevalent in sequences from treatment-experienced compared to antiretroviral treatment naive individuals, however, only the E529D mutation remained significant after correction for multiple comparison. Our findings suggest a potential interaction between E529D and NRTI-treatment; however, site-directed mutagenesis is needed to understand the impact of this RNase H mutation.

Sinaye Ngcapu, Kristof Theys, Pieter Libin, Vincent C Marconi, Henry Sunpath, Thumbi Ndung’u and Michelle L Gordon
Publication Date: 
November, 2017
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