Adaptation to different human populations by HIV-1 revealed by codon-based analyses.


Several codon-based methods are available for detecting adaptive evolution in protein-coding sequences, but to date none specifically identify sites that are selected differentially in two populations, although such comparisons between populations have been historically useful in identifying the action of natural selection. We have developed two fixed effects maximum likelihood methods: one for identifying codon positions showing selection patterns that persist in a population and another for detecting whether selection is operating differentially on individual codons of a gene sampled from two different populations. Applying these methods to two HIV populations infecting genetically distinct human hosts, we have found that few of the positively selected amino acid sites persist in the population; the other changes are detected only at the tips of the phylogenetic tree and appear deleterious in the long term. Additionally, we have identified seven amino acid sites in protease and reverse transcriptase that are selected differentially in the two samples, demonstrating specific population-level adaptation of HIV to human populations.

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