Emergence and evolution of enfuvirtide resistance following long-term therapy involves heptad repeat 2 mutations within gp41

L. Xu, A. Pozniak, A. Wildfire, S. A. Stanfield-Oakley, S. M. Mosier, D. Ratcliffe, J. Workman, A. Joall, R. Myers, E. Smit, Patricia Cane, M. L. Greenberg, D. Pillay*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to track the evolution of sequence changes in both the heptad region 1 (HR1) and HR2 domains of gp41 associated with resistance to enfuvirtide (ENF) in a patient cohort receiving long-term ENF treatment. We studied 17 highly and antiretroviral agent-experienced patients receiving long-term ENF treatment with virological rebound or a lack of suppression. Sixty-two samples obtained after between 5 and 107 weeks of ENF therapy were analyzed. Baseline samples from 15 of these 17 patients were available for analysis. Viruses from five samples from four patients were also sequenced after the cessation of ENF therapy. Drug susceptibilities were assessed by a pseudotype virus reporter assay. We identified HR1 and HR2 sequence changes over time in relation to the baseline sequences. Mutations in HR1 (amino acids 36 to 45) were noted in all cases, including previously unreported changes N42Q/H and N43Q. In addition to a range of HR2 sequence changes at polymorphic sites, isolates from 6 of 17 (35%) patients developed an S138A substitution in the HR2 domain at least 8 weeks after the start of ENF treatment and also subsequent to the first emergence of HR1 mutations. In most, but not all, cases the S138A mutation accompanied HR1 mutations at position 43. Molecular modeling demonstrates the close proximity of S138A with amino acids 40 and 45 in HR1. Of note, isolates in samples available from four patients demonstrated the loss of both the HR1 and the S138A HR2 mutations following the cessation of therapy. We show that the S138A HR2 mutation increased the level of resistance by approximately threefold over that conferred by the HR1 mutation N43D. Continual evolution of HR1 in the domain from amino acids 36 to 45 was observed during long-term ENF therapy. We have identified, for the first time, an ENF resistance-associated HR2 mutation, S138A, which appeared in isolates from 6 of 17 patients with virological failure and demonstrated its potential to contribute to drug resistance. We propose that this represents a possible secondary and/or compensatory mutation, particularly when it coexists with mutations at position 43 in HR-1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1119
Number of pages7
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


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