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Differences in Transcriptional Dynamics Between T-cells and Macrophages as Determined by a Three-State Mathematical Model.

HIV-1 viral transcription persists in patients despite antiretroviral treatment, potentially due to intermittent HIV-1 LTR activation. While several mathematical models have been explored in the context of LTR-protein interactions, in this work for the first time HIV-1 LTR model featuring repressed, intermediate, and activated LTR states is integrated with generation of long (env) and short (TAR) RNAs and proteins (Tat, Pr55, and p24) in T-cells and macrophages using both cell lines and infected primary cells. This type of extended modeling framework allows us to compare and contrast behavior of these two cell types. We demonstrate that they exhibit unique LTR dynamics, which ultimately results in differences in the magnitude of viral products generated. One of the distinctive features of this work is that it relies on experimental data in reaction rate computations. Two RNA transcription rates from the activated promoter states are fit by comparison of experimental data to model predictions. Fitting to the data also provides estimates for the degradation/exit rates for long and short viral RNA. Our experimentally generated data is in reasonable agreement for the T-cell as well macrophage population and gives strong evidence in support of using the proposed integrated modeling paradigm. Sensitivity analysis performed using Latin hypercube sampling method confirms robustness of the model with respect to small parameter perturbations. Finally, incorporation of a transcription inhibitor (F07#13) into the governing equations demonstrates how the model can be used to assess drug efficacy. Collectively, our model indicates transcriptional differences between latently HIV-1 infected T-cells and macrophages and provides a novel platform to study various transcriptional dynamics leading to latency or activation in numerous cell types and physiological conditions.

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Comparative multi-assay evaluation of Determine™ HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo rapid diagnostic tests in acute and chronic HIV infection.

In resource-limited or point-of-care settings, rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), that aim to simultaneously detect HIV antibodies and p24 capsid (p24CA) antigen with high sensitivity, can pose important alternatives to screen for early infections. We evaluated the performance of the antibody and antigen components of the old and novel version of the Determine™ HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo RDTs in parallel to quantifications in a fourth-generation antigen/antibody immunoassay (4G-EIA), p24CA antigen immunoassay (p24CA-EIA), immunoblots, and nucleic acid quantification. We included plasma samples of acute, treatment-naïve HIV-1 infections (Fiebig stages I-VI, subtypes A1, B, C, F, CRF02_AG, CRF02_AE, URF) or chronic HIV-1 and HIV-2 infections. The tests' antigen component was evaluated also for a panel of subtype B HIV-1 transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses, HIV-2 strains and HIV-2 primary isolates. Furthermore, we assessed the analytical sensitivity of the RDTs to detect p24CA using a highly purified HIV-1 p24CA standard. We found that 77% of plasma samples from acutely infected, immunoblot-negative HIV-1 patients in Fiebig stages II-III were identified by the new RDT, while only 25% scored positive in the old RDT. Both RDTs reacted to all samples from chronically HIV-1-infected and acutely HIV-1-infected patients with positive immunoblots. All specimens from chronically infected HIV-2 patients scored positive in the new RDT. Of note, the sensitivity of the RDTs to detect recombinant p24CA from a subtype B virus ranged between 50 and 200 pg/mL, mirrored also by the detection of HIV-1 T/F viruses only at antigen concentrations tenfold higher than suggested by the manufacturer. The RTD failed to recognize any of the HIV-2 viruses tested. Our results indicate that the new version of the Determine™ HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo displays an increased sensitivity to detect HIV-1 p24CA-positive, immunoblot-negative plasma samples compared to the precursor version. The sensitivity of 4G-EIA and p24CA-EIA to detect the major structural HIV antigen, and thus to diagnose acute infections prior to seroconversion, is still superior.

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