Little sequence information is available for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vif genes of African origin. Here we describe 37 new complete vif genes of 18 AIDS patients from Uganda and show that vif has a high in vivo genetic variability. vif proviral DNA sequences of peripheral blood cells were determined by direct sequencing of PCR products. Only 52% of the deduced Vif amino acids were absolutely conserved; when Vif sequences previously analysed were considered, only 32% of the Vif consensus sequence comprised conserved and as such possibly functionally important motifs. The high inter-individual vif variability was in contrast to a very low intra-individual variability. One patient carried a vif gene with a stable C-terminal deletion, but N-terminal truncations were not found in patients' predominant vif sequences. The vif genes analysed comprised subtypes A, D and an A/D mosaic. Phylogenetic analyses additionally showed that HIV- 1 in Uganda has spread across the boundaries of ethnic groups.


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