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A simple and cost-saving phenotypic drug susceptibility testing of HIV-1

It is essential to monitor the occurrence of drug-resistant strains and to provide guidance for clinically adapted antiviral treatment of HIV/AIDS. In this study, an individual patient's HIV-1 pol gene encoding the full length of protease and part of the reverse transcriptase was packaged into a modified lentivirus carrying dual-reporters ZsGreen and luciferase. The optimal coefficient of correlation between drug concentration and luciferase activity was optimized. A clear-cut dose-dependent relationship between lentivirus production and luciferase activity was found in the phenotypic testing system. Fold changes (FC) to a wild-type control HIV-1 strain ratios were determined reflecting the phenotypic susceptibility of treatment-exposed patient's HIV-1 strains to 12 HIV-1 inhibitors including 6 nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), 4 non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) and 2 protease inhibitors (PIs). Phenotypic susceptibility calls from 8 HIV-1 infected patients were consistent with 80-90% genotypic evaluations, while phenotypic assessments rectified 10-20% genotypic resistance calls. By a half of replacement with ZsGreen reporter, the consumption of high cost Bright-Glo Luciferase Assay is reduced, making this assay cheaper when a large number of HIV-1 infected individuals are tested. The study provides a useful tool for interpreting meaningful genotypic mutations and guiding tailored antiviral treatment of HIV/AIDS in clinical practice.

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