Two staff at UVRI recently acquired PhDs at the just recently concluded Makerere University graduations of 2022.
The included; Anne Kapaata with PhD in Molecular Virology and Stephen Balinandi.
Anne Kapaata Andama's Research Work
Anne Kapaata Andama looked at Genotypic and Phenotypic Characterization of HIV-1 transmitted/founder viruses and their effect on cytokine profiles and disease progression among acutely infected Ugandans. Subtype analysis of inferred transmitted/founder viruses showed a high transmission rate of inter-subtype recombinants (69%) involving mainly A1/D, while pure subtype D variants accounted for one- third of infections (31%).
Picture One: Anne Kapaata on her day of graduation.
The signal peptide-C1 region and gp41 transmembrane domain were hotspots for A1/D recombination events. A panel of Gag-Pol sequences generated using single genome amplification from incident HIV-1 infections were cloned into a common HIV-1 NL4.3 backbone and the influence of Gag-Pol changes on replication capacity was monitored. Using a novel protein domain approach, she documented diversity in the functional protein domains across the Gag-Pol region and identified differences in the Gag-p6 domain that were frequently associated with higher in vitro replication. HIV-1 subtype D exhibited significantly higher median concentrations of cytokines than subtype A. cytokines IL-12/23p40 and IL-1α were associated with faster CD4+T cell count decline while basic fibroblast growth factor was associated with maintenance of CD4+T cell count above 350cells/microliter. This work was funded by the International AIDS Vaccine initiative and supervised by Professors Pontiano Kaleebu, Eric Hunter and Moses Joloba and Dr. Jesus Salazar Gonzalez.