PLoS pathogens 2017 05 2513(5) e1006358 doi 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006358
The process by which drug-resistant HIV-1 arises and spreads spatially within an infected individual is poorly understood. Studies have found variable results relating how HIV-1 in the blood differs from virus sampled in tissues, offering conflicting findings about whether HIV-1 throughout the body is homogeneously distributed. However, most of these studies sample only two compartments and few have data from multiple time points. To directly measure how drug resistance spreads within a host and to assess how spatial structure impacts its emergence, we examined serial sequences from four macaques infected with RT-SHIVmne027, a simian immunodeficiency virus encoding HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT), and treated with RT inhibitors. Both viral DNA and RNA (vDNA and vRNA) were isolated from the blood (including plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells), lymph nodes, gut, and vagina at a median of four time points and RT was characterized via single-genome sequencing. The resulting sequences reveal a dynamic system in which vRNA rapidly acquires drug resistance concomitantly across compartments through multiple independent mutations. Fast migration results in the same viral genotypes present across compartments, but not so fast as to equilibrate their frequencies immediately. The blood and lymph nodes were found to be compartmentalized rarely, while both the blood and lymph node were more frequently different from mucosal tissues. This study suggests that even oft-sampled blood does not fully capture the viral dynamics in other parts of the body, especially the gut where vRNA turnover was faster than the plasma and vDNA retained fewer wild-type viruses than other sampled compartments. Our findings of transient compartmentalization across multiple tissues may help explain the varied results of previous compartmentalization studies in HIV-1.