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PLoS Genet. 2012;8(3):e1002551. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002551. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

Exploring the complexity of the HIV-1 fitness landscape.

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  • 1ETH Zürich, Institute of Integrative Biology, Zürich, Switzerland.

Abstract

Although fitness landscapes are central to evolutionary theory, so far no biologically realistic examples for large-scale fitness landscapes have been described. Most currently available biological examples are restricted to very few loci or alleles and therefore do not capture the high dimensionality characteristic of real fitness landscapes. Here we analyze large-scale fitness landscapes that are based on predictive models for in vitro replicative fitness of HIV-1. We find that these landscapes are characterized by large correlation lengths, considerable neutrality, and high ruggedness and that these properties depend only weakly on whether fitness is measured in the absence or presence of different antiretrovirals. Accordingly, adaptive processes on these landscapes depend sensitively on the initial conditions. While the relative extent to which mutations affect fitness on their own (main effects) or in combination with other mutations (epistasis) is a strong determinant of these properties, the fitness landscape of HIV-1 is considerably less rugged, less neutral, and more correlated than expected from the distribution of main effects and epistatic interactions alone. Overall this study confirms theoretical conjectures about the complexity of biological fitness landscapes and the importance of the high dimensionality of the genetic space in which adaptation takes place.

PMID:
22412384
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3297571
Free PMC Article

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