Summary: Enfuvirtide (T-20) is the lead compound of the new class of antiretroviral drugs called fusion inhibitors. T-20 resistance-associated mutations located in the heptad repeat 1 (HR-1) domain of gp41 have been described in vitro and in clinical trials. In this study, the authors investigated the primary genotypic T-20 resistance in subtype B and non-B HIV-1 strains from patients at the beginning of their follow-up in the Luxembourg HIV Cohort as well as the emergence of primary resistance to T-20 in patients who had long-term infection with subtype B HIV-1 strains. HR-1 fragments including the gp41 amino acid 36-45, T-20-sensitive region were screened for amino acid variation. No classic T-20 resistance-associated mutations were identified in subtype B or non-B isolates. However, several uncommon mutations were found at residues 37, 39, and 42 for subtype B isolates and at residue 42 for a subtype non-B isolate. The results indicate that primary genotypic T-20 resistance seems to be rare in HIV-1, regardless of subtype or prior antiretroviral therapy (excluding fusion inhibitors). However, episodic variation within HR-1 can occur and needs further phenotypic evaluation in accurate fusion inhibitor resistance assays.
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