Designing a non-virulent HIV-1 strain: potential implications for vaccine

Abbas Rezaei, Rezvan Zabihollahi, Mansoor Salehi, Sharareh Moghim, Hasan Tamizifar, Nasrin Yazdanpanahi, Gilda Amini


BACKGROUND: Culturing and working with wild type HIV virions may produce contamination and infection. The main
objective of this study was to design a non-infective HIV-1 strain that can be used safely in research laboratories for
various research topics on HIV life cycle and pathogenesis.
METHODS: Non-infective HIV-1 strain (mzNL4-3) was designed by deleting a 2 Kb sequence of HIV-1 (NL4-3 strain)
genome that codes reverse transcriptase (RT) and integrase (IN) enzymes.
RESULTS: The deletion removed 95% of RT and 34% of IN peptide sequences and abolished the functions of these enzymes
totally. This deletion didn’t produce any other alteration in HIV genome, not only in mRNA level but also in
transcription or translation levels. We named this strain, mutated z NL4-3 (mzNL4-3).
CONCLUSIONS: Our mutated HIV-1 virions can be produced by transforming any mammalian cell line with mzNL4-3
vector (pmzNL4-3) but these virions can not replicate in any competent target cell. Hence, it can be used for many of
the HIV-1 researches in a level 2 lab. mzNL4-3 has also the major antigen markers of HIV-1, NY5 and LAV strains,
which are the most common strains of HIV-1. Therefore, mzNL4-3 can also be considered as a choice for HIV-1 vaccine
investigation. Probably mzNL4-3 could be used for lab research and vaccine investigation.
KEYWORDS: HIV-1, mzNL4-3, non-infectious, mutant, safe research, vaccine.


HIV-1, mzNL4-3, non-infectious, mutant, safe research, vaccine.

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