Summary: Infection of rhesus macaques with chimeric simian-human immunodeficiency viruses (SHIV) is an established method to study AIDS pathogenesis and is increasingly used to assess the efficacy of vaccine and antiviral candidates. For these reasons, a detailed understanding of those molecular determinants, which confer pathogenic potential to SHIV viruses, should assist in both rational experimental design and interpretation of results. In this report, we describe the development and in vivo characterization of a pathogenic molecular clone, SHIVSF33A2, which contains an envelope sequence derived from the CXCR4-dependent isolate, HIV-1SF33. Proviral DNA, amplified from a rhesus macaque infected with the pathogenic isolate SHIVSF33A, was substituted into the corresponding region of the parental, nonpathogenic SHIVSF33 genome creating the molecular clone SHIVSF33A2. Coreceptor specificity of SHIVSF33A2 was determined to be CXCR4 specific. Naive rhesus macaques were productively infected after a single exposure to cell-free SHIVSF33A2 by either the intravenous (IV) or intravaginal (IVAG) routes. Animals infected with SHIVSF33A2 suffered a severe loss of peripheral CD4+ T cells and high acute plasma viremia with development of simian AIDS 9 months after inoculation. Sequence analysis identified 25 discreet amino acid changes within the V1-V5 regions of the envelope protein when compared with the nonpathogenic parental virus. These data indicate that domains within the HIV-1 envelope protein are sufficient to define pathogenic potential in the context of the SIVmac239 genome.
(C) 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.