Summary: The genetic subtype was identified in gag and env of 219 HIV-1-positive samples collected in different African countries, 44 from Senegal, 55 from Cameroon, 82 from Gabon, and 38 from Djibouti. In total, 20 (9.1%) samples had discordant subtypes between gag and env, 6 of 44 (13.9%) in Senegal, 4 of 55 (7.2%) in Cameroon, 1 of 38 (2.6%) in Djibouti, and 10 of 82 (12.1%) in Gabon. Subtypes A and G were predominantly involved in the recombination events. Phylogenetic tree analysis of gag showed that an important number of the A sequences form a distinct subcluster with the AG-IBNG prototype strain (a complex A/G mosaic virus): 27 of 32 (84.3%) in Senegal, 12 of 17 (70.6%) in Nigeria, 24 of 39 (61.5%) in Cameroon, and 38 of 70 (54.3%) in Gabon. Full-length genome analysis of 3 and additional sequences in pol for 10 such strains confirmed that they have a similar complex A/G mosaic genomic structure. These data suggest that in West Africa, most probably between 60% and 84% of the subtype A viruses are recombinant AG-IBNG viruses. This finding has potential implications on future vaccine, diagnostic, and treatment strategies. The actual and future role of these viruses in the global pandemic must be monitored in all new molecular epidemiologic studies, a discrimination between subtype A and AG-IBNG-like viruses is necessary.
(C) 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.