Genetic Conservation in gp36 Transmembrane Sequences of Indian HIV Type 2 Isolates

Abstract HIV-2 group A is predominant in different parts of the world, especially Africa, Portugal, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Korea, and India. Among the Asian countries, India accounts for about 95% of all HIV-2 infections. The prevalence of HIV-2 has been reported from various states of India such as Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh. In the present study, we analyzed transmembrane region (gp36) sequences of 10 HIV-2 group A Indian strains, isolated from Indian HIV-2-seropositive individuals. HIV Blast analysis for the 1.0-Kb region of the gp36 transmembrane region has shown that all these sequences belong to HIV-2 group A. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the sequences cluster with HIV-2 group A sequences of Cameroon and Senegal. The epitope found at position 645-656 (YELQKLNSWDVF), previously reported as a broadly neutralizing determinant, was very well conserved in all 10 study sequences. The percentage similarity between Indian and South African HIV-2 group A gp36 sequences was 90% (range 86-100, SD 2.8) and with other nonsubtype A clades was 84% (range 77-100, SD 6.06) indicating overall less variability among the reported HIV-2 sequences. Similarly, the consensus amino acid sequences of the envelope transmembrane region of HIV-1 (gp41) and HIV-2 (gp36) is quite synonymous, indicating 87% similarity; however, limited information is available about the gp36 transmembrane region of the prevalent HIV 2 group A Indian strain. The rate of synonymous substitutions reported in the gp105 region was significantly higher, suggesting lower virulence of HIV-2, which does translate into a lower rate of evolution, while the dN/dS ratio for the gp36 transmembrane region was less than one, indicating its conservation and significance (p<0.05) in structural and functional constraints.