HIV reservoir quantification using cross-subtype multiplex ddPCR

Graphical abstract
Elsevier, iScience, Volume 25, 21 January 2022
Cassidy N.A.J., Fish C.S., Levy C.N., Roychoudhury P., Reeves D.B., Hughes S.M. et al.

A major barrier to conducting HIV cure research in populations with the highest HIV burden is the lack of an accurate assay to quantify the replication-competent reservoir across the dominant global HIV-1 subtypes. Here, we modify a subtype B HIV-1 assay that quantifies both intact and defective proviral DNA, adapting it to accommodate cross-subtype HIV-1 sequence diversity. We show that the cross-subtype assay works on subtypes A, B, C, D, and CRF01_AE and can detect a single copy of intact provirus. In longitudinal blood samples from Kenyan infants infected with subtypes A and D, patterns of intact and total HIV DNA follow the decay of plasma viral load over time during antiretroviral therapy, with intact HIV DNA comprising 7% (range 1%–33%) of the total HIV DNA during HIV RNA suppression. This high-throughput cross-subtype reservoir assay will be useful in HIV cure research in Africa and Asia, where HIV prevalence is highest.