Three cynomolgus macaques were immunized with recombinant envelope protein preparations derived from simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Although humoral and cellular responses were elicited by the immunization regime, all macaques became infected upon challenge with 10 MID of the 11/88 virus challenge stock of SIVmac251-32H. The polymerase chain reaction was used to amplify proviral SIV gp120 sequences present in the blood of both immunized and control macaques at 2 months post-infection. A comparison of the predominant sequences found in the region from V2 to V5 of gp120 failed to differentiate provirus recovered from either immunized or control animals. A detailed investigation of sequences obtained from the hypervariable V1 region identified a mixture of sequences in both immunized and control macaques. Some sequences were identical to those previously detected in the virus challenge stock, whereas others had not been detected previously. Phenogram analysis of the new V1 sequences found in immunized animals revealed that they were quite distinct from those from the virus challenge stock and that they included alterations to potential -linked glycosylation sites. In contrast, new sequence variants recovered from the control animals were closely related to sequences from the virus challenge stock. The difference in diversity of new V1 sequences recovered from immunized and control macaques was highly significant ( < 0.001). Thus, the presence of preexisting immune responses to SIV envelope protein is associated with greater genetic change in the V1 region of gp120. These data are discussed in relation to the epitopes of SIV gp120 that may confer protection from challenge.


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