Multidrug-resistant variants of HIV type 1 (HIV-1) can exist in cells as defective quasispecies and be rescued by superinfection with other defective HIV-1 variants.

Abstract:

A tissue culture cell line infected with multidrug-resistant (MDR) human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) produced only noninfectious particles because of a lethal mutation in env. The defective MDR provirus was rescued by superinfection with either wild-type HIV-1 or a second replication-defective virus lethally mutated in capsid. Drug-resistance phenotyping revealed that the MDR viruses dominated if even single reverse-transcriptase inhibitors were present, reflecting linkage of the various drug resistance mutations on a single viral nucleic acid backbone. These results are most likely attributable to recombination during second rounds of infection and suggest that defective HIV-1 variants may nonetheless constitute part of the HIV-1 reservoir.

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