High frequency of isolation of defective human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and heterogeneity of viral gene expression in clones of infected U-937 cells.

Abstract:

Limiting-dilution techniques were employed to derive single-cell clones from U-937 cells that had been chronically infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1. All clones thus obtained were positive for the presence of viral antigens; however, not all of the clones produced infectious progeny virus, as detected by the presence of reverse transcriptase (RT) activity in culture fluids. Six of these clones were monitored over time to determine whether their phenotype of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 expression was stable. Three clones maintained production of RT activity at a high level and showed a very high percentage of cells positive for viral p24 antigen, as determined by indirect immunofluorescence. The other three clones showed variations in either their levels of RT activity or the number of cells positive for p24, after which they stabilized. Infectious virus could be recovered from only three clones, as assessed by coculture experiments with different cell types. Two other clones were shown to produce noninfectious viruses. Molecular analyses at the DNA, RNA, and protein levels showed extensive variations between the viral isolates recovered from each clone.

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