Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is frequently accompanied by the AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) dementia complex. The role of specific HIV genetic elements in the pathogenesis of central nervous system (CNS) disease is not clear. Transgenic mice were constructed that contained the long terminal repeats (LTRs) of two CNS-derived strains and a T cell tropic strain of HIV-1. Only mice generated with CNS-derived LTRs directed expression in the CNS, particularly in neurons. Thus, some strains of HIV-1 have a selective advantage for gene expression in the brain, and neurons can supply the cellular factors necessary for their transcription.
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