Virus populations were selected in cell culture using two widely used protocols in order to evaluate the role of selection methodology on the genotype and phenotype of nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor resistant viruses. Selection was performed by serial passage of virus in the presence of gradually increasing concentrations of antiviral compound or passage in the presence of a constant high concentration of compound. Using the CEM-SS cell line, the IIIB strain of HIV-1, and identical nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, resistant viruses were obtained and their phenotypic and genotypic properties were defined. Resistant virus populations containing the Y181C amino acid change in the reverse transcriptase were predominantly selected with each of the tested compounds. Several of the compounds selected secondary amino acid changes using both methods. A comparison of the resistant viruses selected in our laboratory using each of the two protocols with viruses reported by a second laboratory employing one of the two methods suggests that genotypic differences in the selected virus isolates may most likely result from variation in the genetic composition of the respective wild type virus pools, rather than the specific selection methodology employed. These results imply that HIV may select a wide variety of amino acid changes to avoid the inhibitory effects of the nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and the selection of compounds for clinical use in combination with agents possessing non-overlapping resistance phenotypes will require evaluation of the agents against virus isolates possessing each of the mutations known to confer drug resistance.
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