Identification of a Newly Characterized HIV-1 BG Intersubtype Circulating Recombinant Form in Galicia, Spain, Which Exhibits a Pseudotype-Like Virion Structure

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Summary:We recently reported the finding of phylogenetically related HIV-1 BG intersubtype recombinant and G subtype nonrecombinant viruses circulating among injecting drug users in the region of Galicia in northwestern Spain. Here, we report the characterization of near full-length genome sequences of nine of these viruses (seven BG recombinant and two of nonrecombinant G subtype), obtained from epidemiologically unlinked individuals. Bootscan analysis reveals that six recombinant viruses share an identical mosaic structure, with two intersubtype breakpoints delimiting a B subtype segment comprising most of Env gp120 and the external portion of Env gp41, with the remaining portions of the genome being of subtype G, thus mimicking a pseudotype virion structure. The seventh BG recombinant virus exhibits breakpoints in env coincident with the other BG viruses but contains additional B subtype segments in gag and pol. In phylogenetic trees of complete genomes and of the B subtype segment of env, all seven BG viruses group in a monophyletic cluster. G subtype portions of the BG viruses group uniformly with the newly derived nonrecombinant G subtype viruses of Galicia in bootscan analysis, which points to the locally circulating G subtype strain as parental of the recombinants. These results allow us to define a new HIV-1 circulating recombinant form (CRFI4_BG), the first reported to originate in Western Europe.

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