Quasispecies variant dynamics during emergence of resistance to raltegravir in HIV-1-infected patients

Isabelle Malet, Olivier Delelis, Cathia Soulie, Marc Wirden, Luba Tchertanov, Philippe Mottaz, Gilles Peytavin, Christine Katlama, Jean-François Mouscadet, Vincent Calvez, Anne-Genevieve Marcelin
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 2009, 63 (4): 795-804

OBJECTIVES: Raltegravir is the first approved inhibitor of HIV-1 integrase (IN). In most patients, raltegravir failure is associated with mutations in the IN gene, through two different genetic pathways: 155 (N155H) or 148 (Q148K/R/H). The objective of this study was to characterize the dynamics of HIV-1 quasispecies variant populations in patients who failed to respond to raltegravir treatment.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Bulk genotyping and clonal analysis were performed during the follow-up of 10 patients who failed to respond to raltegravir treatment.

RESULTS: Treatment failed through the 155 pathway in six patients and through the 148 pathway in two patients; two further patients switched from the 155 to the 148 pathway. In the two patients switching from the 155 to the 148 pathway, clonal analysis showed that Q148R/H and N155H mutations were present on different strands, suggesting that these two pathways are independent. This was consistent with our finding that each genetic profile was associated with different secondary mutations. We observed a greater variability among quasispecies associated with the 155 pathway, and IC(50) determinations showed that the fold resistance to raltegravir, relative to wild-type, was 10 for the N155H mutant and 50 for the G140S+Q148H mutant.

CONCLUSIONS: Clonal analysis strongly suggests that the two main genetic pathways, 155 and 148, involved in the development of resistance to raltegravir are independent and exclusive. Moreover, the switch of the resistance profile from 155 to 148 may be related to the higher level of resistance to raltegravir conferred by the 148 pathway and also to the higher instability of the 155 pathway.

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