Genetic analysis of the complete gag and env genes of HIV type 1 subtype C primary isolates from South Africa
South Africa has one of the fastest growing HIV-1 epidemics, with an estimated 4.7 million people infected. To better understand the genetic diversity of this epidemic and its potential impact on vaccine development, we have cloned and sequenced the complete gag and env genes of 13 primary virus isolates. Phylogenetic analysis of our sequences and 69 complete env genes from the Los Alamos and GenBank databases revealed multiple subclusters within subtype C. The V3 loop region was relatively conserved in all our strains when compared with other subtypes, but the region immediately downstream was highly variable. No intersubtype recombinant forms were observed when comparing the gag and env sequences. Characterization of the complete gag and env genes enabled us to select specific strains for further vaccine development.