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Uganda Virus Research Institute


UVRI Staff Capacity Boosted On Characterisation Of HIV

PhD Research Work on Characterisation of HIV at UVRI

Two staff at UVRI recently acquired PhDs at the just recently concluded Makerere University graduations of 2022.

The included; Anne Kapaata with PhD in Molecular Virology and Stephen Balinandi. 

Anne Kapaata Andama's Research Work

Anne Kapaata Andama looked at Genotypic and Phenotypic Characterization of HIV-1 transmitted/founder viruses and their effect on cytokine profiles and disease progression among acutely infected Ugandans. Subtype analysis of inferred transmitted/founder viruses showed a high transmission rate of inter-subtype recombinants (69%) involving mainly A1/D, while pure subtype D variants accounted for one- third of infections (31%).

Picture One: Anne Kapaata on her day of graduation.

 The signal peptide-C1 region and gp41 transmembrane domain were hotspots for A1/D recombination events. A panel of Gag-Pol sequences generated using single genome amplification from incident HIV-1 infections were cloned into a common HIV-1 NL4.3 backbone and the influence of Gag-Pol changes on replication capacity was monitored. Using a novel protein domain approach, she documented diversity in the functional protein domains across the Gag-Pol region and identified differences in the Gag-p6 domain that were frequently associated with higher in vitro replication. HIV-1 subtype D exhibited significantly higher median concentrations of cytokines than subtype A. cytokines IL-12/23p40 and IL-1α were associated with faster CD4+T cell count decline while basic fibroblast growth factor was associated with maintenance of CD4+T cell count above 350cells/microliter. This work was funded by the International AIDS Vaccine initiative and supervised by Professors Pontiano Kaleebu, Eric Hunter and Moses Joloba and Dr. Jesus Salazar Gonzalez.