Re: HIV genome, clones and sequences 25 July 2003
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Christopher J Noble,
postdoctoral fellow
Bern, Switzerland

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Re: Re: HIV genome, clones and sequences

I encourage everyone following this debate to carefully read the references that Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos provides as support for her arguments.

Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos while discussing the Sydney Blood Bank Cohort (1-2) writes, 'According to the authors of the Sydney Cohort study "Since the nef gene has been clearly established as a cause of slowly progressive SIV infection in macaques, it seems likely that the nef gene deletion is the principal cause of the attenuation of the Sydney Blood Bank Cohort HIV".'

She then cites Baba et al (3) as evidence against the hypothesis that it is the nef-deletion that is responsible for slow progression in these cases. In fact, if one reads the article it is evident that there is nothing at all to contradict the conclusions of the Sydney Cohort researchers. Baba et al found that although infection with nef-deletion mutants did not lead to AIDS in adult macaques the same was not necessarily true in macaque neonates. They agree 100% that the virus is attenuated by the nef deletion. They argue, however, that nef-deletion mutants may still cause disease in specific cases such as neonates and as such these live attenuated strains are not suitable for vaccines.

I challenge Papadopulos-Eleopulos to provide any references that provide evidence that nef-deletion mutants are not attenuated.

(1) Learmont J, Tindall B, Evans L, Cunningham A, Cunningham P, Wells J, Penny, R, Kaldor J, Cooper, D A. (1992) Lancet 340: 863-867.

(2) Learmont J C, Geczy A F, Mills J, Ashton L J, Raynes-Greenow C H, Garsia R J, Dyer W B, McIntyre L, Oelrichs R B, Rhodes D I, Deacon N J, Sullivan, J. S. NEJM 340: 1715-1722.

(3) Baba, T W, Jeong, Y S, Pennick, D, Bronson, R, Greene, M. F, Ruprecht, R. M. (1995) Science 267:1820-1825

Competing interests:   None declared