Altered HIV Gene Expression Leading to Faster CD4 Depletion

by Msoy on May 11, 2017 - 12:53pm

Altered HIV Gene Expression Leading to Faster CD4 Depletion


HIV or the Human Immunodefiency Virus, is a lentivirus (subclass of Retrovirus) and is capable of reverse transcription (transcribing its RNA substrate into DNA).   The HIV pathogen is suggested to target human leukocytes (CD4 cells) as a method of retaining its ability to multiply.  As such, a person with HIV will experience a significant decrease in CD4 cells in their blood as the infection progresses.  When a person’s CD4 count per microliter of blood falls below a threshold of 350 cells/uL, it is recorded that a person’s HIV infection has progressed to AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome and is at significant risk for a plethora of deadly diseases.


As many microbial pathogens have various strains within their species classification, HIV has different subgroups or strains, each of which exhibit different gene expression.  In a study conducted by Chu et. al. the HIV-1 CRF01_AE strain was investigated to determine the cause of a higher rate of CD4 depletion in patients from Jiangsu Province, China.  Chu et. al found that increased gene expression of CRF01_AE in the pol region caused a 50% increase in CD4 destruction in patients affected with the strain in comparison to the various subtypes studied. 


The issue with this finding is that modern medicine is only able to treat viruses, not cure them.  For many years, HIV and AIDS were treatable by introducing Anti Retrovirals (ARV’s) which prevented the HIV virus from binding to the target cell and decreased the viral load considerably.  In the case of heightened immuno-suppression from patients with ARV treatment, the typical progression of HIV to AIDS would be shortened from an average of 8-10 years to a time period of 4-5 years.  For regions like sub-Sahara African, this increased progression of HIV to AIDS could threaten a large portion of the population as ARV’s fail to protect patients from developing life-threatening infections.




Chu, Minjie, Wuhong Zhang, Xuan Zhang, Wenjie Jiang, Xiping Huan, Xiaojun Meng, Bowen Zhu, Yue Yang, Yusha Tao, Tian Tian, Yihua Lu, Liying Jiang, Lei Zhang, and Xun Zhuang. "HIV-1 CRF01_AE strain is associated with faster HIV/AIDS progression in Jiangsu Province, China." Nature News. Nature Publishing Group, 08 May 2017. Web. 11 May 2017.


aids is one of the most mutatable virus in the world next to rhinovirus, also commonly known as the common cold, as it mutates to irreguraly to be permentaley cured or defended agains in the immune system.

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