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Genetics. 1998 Mar;148(3):929-36.

Likelihood models for detecting positively selected amino acid sites and applications to the HIV-1 envelope gene.

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Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3140, USA.


Several codon-based models for the evolution of protein-coding DNA sequences are developed that account for varying selection intensity among amino acid sites. The "neutral model" assumes two categories of sites at which amino acid replacements are either neutral or deleterious. The "positive-selection model" assumes an additional category of positively selected sites at which nonsynonymous substitutions occur at a higher rate than synonymous ones. This model is also used to identify target sites for positive selection. The models are applied to a data set of the V3 region of the HIV-1 envelope gene, sequenced at different years after the infection of one patient. The results provide strong support for variable selection intensity among amino acid sites The neutral model is rejected in favor of the positive-selection model, indicating the operation of positive selection in the region. Positively selected sites are found in both the V3 region and the flanking regions.

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