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J Virol. 2007 May;81(9):4492-500. Epub 2007 Feb 21.

Extensive intrasubtype recombination in South African human immunodeficiency virus type 1 subtype C infections.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Box 358070, Seattle, WA 98195-8070, USA.


Recombinant human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) strains containing sequences from different viral genetic subtypes (intersubtype) and different lineages from within the same subtype (intrasubtype) have been observed. A consequence of recombination can be the distortion of the phylogenetic signal. Several intersubtype recombinants have been identified; however, less is known about the frequency of intrasubtype recombination. For this study, near-full-length HIV-1 subtype C genomes from 270 individuals were evaluated for the presence of intrasubtype recombination. A sliding window schema (window, 2 kb; step, 385 bp) was used to partition the aligned sequences. The Shimodaira-Hasegawa test detected significant topological incongruence in 99.6% of the comparisons of the maximum-likelihood trees generated from each sequence partition, a result that could be explained by recombination. Using RECOMBINE, we detected significant levels of recombination using five random subsets of the sequences. With a set of 23 topologically consistent sequences used as references, bootscanning followed by the interactive informative site test defined recombination breakpoints. Using two multiple-comparison correction methods, 47% of the sequences showed significant evidence of recombination in both analyses. Estimated evolutionary rates were revised from 0.51%/year (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.39 to 0.53%) with all sequences to 0.46%/year (95% CI, 0.38 to 0.48%) with the putative recombinants removed. The timing of the subtype C epidemic origin was revised from 1961 (95% CI, 1947 to 1962) with all sequences to 1958 (95% CI, 1949 to 1960) with the putative recombinants removed. Thus, intrasubtype recombinants are common within the subtype C epidemic and these impact analyses of HIV-1 evolution.

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