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Title: Viral genetics of HIV-2 infection
Author: James, Katherine Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 9796
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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HIV-2 is a contemporary human retrovirus with the majority of infections localised to West Africa. Both HIV-1 and HIV-2 are able to cause AIDS; however, in contrast to HIV-1 infection, a common outcome following HIV-2 infection (∼ 37% of patients in this study cohort) is long-term non-progression (LTNP), where patients remain aviraemic and asymptomatic in the absence of treatment, often for decades. HIV-1 and HIV-2 both arose following zoonotic transmission of SIVs from non-human primates at around the beginning of the 20th century and when patients develop AIDS caused by HIV-2 infection, it is clinically indistinguishable from AIDS following HIV-1 infection. Whilst the estimated number of HIV-2 infections remains small in the context of the global HIV pandemic (HIV-2 ∼ 2 million, HIV-1 group M ∼75 million), the differences in pathogenicity between these two viruses has been a source of great interest, particularly the features of LTNPs that allow control of viral replication in the absence of anti-retroviral treatment. The studies described in this thesis were carried out using samples collected from a well-characterised longitudinal community cohort in Caió, Guinea-Bissau. Chapter 3 of this thesis presents an investigation into the variation and evolution present in the HIV-2 specific accessory gene vpx. The data showed significantly increased signals of positive selection pressure in vpx in viraemic when compared to non-viraemic patients and also allowed the identification of novel variations at high frequencies (up to 22%) in this cohort that were previously un-described. Chapters 4 and 5 present a novel application of shotgun RNA sequencing (RNA- Seq) to HIV ex vitro and ex vivo samples. Chapter 4 demonstrates the divergence seen in a cultured viral isolate at the level of the whole genome, in the absence of many of the biases typically involved in sequencing of RNA viruses. Chapter 5 further extends this method to show the applicability of using RNA-Seq on primary patient HIV samples for the first time. Analysis of diversity estimates over the whole genome in the context of a low bias sequencing method show a high level of diversity in HIV-2 pol and low diversity in vpx. The aim of this work was to combine traditional and novel sequencing methods to facilitate assessment of the variation and evolution acting on vpx and to generate an accurate picture of the genetic diversity over the whole genome of HIV-2.
Supervisor: Rowland-Jones, Sarah ; McVean, Gilean Sponsor: Wellcome Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HIV infections ; HIV antibodies ; HIV (Viruses)