Seminal SIV in chronically-infected cynomolgus macaques is dominated by virus originating from multiple genital organs

Abstract : The sexual transmission of viruses is responsible for the spread of multiple infectious diseases. Although the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS pandemic remains fueled by sexual contacts with infected semen, the origin of virus in semen is still unknown. In a substantial number of HIV-infected men, viral strains present in semen differ from the ones in blood, suggesting that HIV is locally produced within the genital tract. Such local production may be responsible for the persistence of HIV in semen despite effective antiretroviral therapy. In this study, we used single-genome amplification, amplicon sequencing ( gene), and phylogenetic analyses to compare the genetic structures of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) populations across all the male genital organs and blood in intravenously inoculated cynomolgus macaques in the chronic stage of infection. Examination of the virus populations present in the male genital tissues of the macaques revealed compartmentalized SIV populations in testis, epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles, and urethra. We found genetic similarities between the viral strains present in semen and those in epididymis, vas deferens, and seminal vesicles. The contribution of male genital organs to virus shedding in semen varied among individuals and could not be predicted based on their infection or proinflammatory cytokine mRNA levels. These data indicate that rather than a single source, multiple genital organs are involved in the release of free virus and infected cells into semen. These findings have important implications for our understanding of systemic virus shedding and persistence in semen and for the design of eradication strategies to access viral reservoirs. Semen is instrumental for the dissemination of viruses through sexual contacts. Worryingly, a number of systemic viruses, such as HIV, can persist in this body fluid in the absence of viremia. The local source(s) of virus in semen, however, remains unknown. To elucidate the anatomic origin(s) of the virus released in semen, we compared viral populations present in semen with those in the male genital organs and blood of the Asian macaque model, using single-genome amplification, amplicon sequencing ( gene), and phylogenetic analysis. Our results show that multiple genital tissues harbor compartmentalized strains, some of them (i.e., from epididymis, vas deferens, and seminal vesicles) displaying genetic similarities with the viral populations present in semen. This study is the first to uncover local genital sources of viral populations in semen, providing a new basis for innovative targeted strategies to prevent and eradicate HIV in the male genital tract.
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Laurent Houzet, Marcos Pérez-Losada, Giulia Matusali, Claire Deleage, Nathalie Dereuddre-Bosquet, et al.. Seminal SIV in chronically-infected cynomolgus macaques is dominated by virus originating from multiple genital organs. Journal of Virology, American Society for Microbiology, 2018, 92 (14), pp.e00133-18. ⟨10.1128/JVI.00133-18⟩. ⟨hal-01795804⟩

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