A quantitative bioassay for HIV-1 based on trans-activation

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Science  08 Jan 1988:
Vol. 239, Issue 4836, pp. 184-187
DOI: 10.1126/science.3422113


A bioassay that is based on trans-activation has been developed for the detection and quantitation of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Indicator cell lines were constructed that contain the HIV-1 long terminal repeat ligated to the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) gene. Infection of these cells by HIV activates the expression of CAT protein. Isolates of HIV-1 with divergent nucleotide sequences activated the indicator cell lines to a similar extent, approximately 500- to 1000-fold. Human T cell lymphotropic viruses types 1 and 2, equine infectious anemia virus, and herpes simplex virus 1 did not activate the indicator cell lines. Isolates of simian immunodeficiency virus and human T cell lymphotropic virus type 4 activated these cells to a much lesser extent, which suggests that these viruses contain similar, but distinct, trans-activators. This assay can be used for the detection, quantitation, and typing of HIV and for studying the effect of drugs on the replication of HIV in different cellular backgrounds.