Analysis of temporal changes in HIV-1 CRF01_AE gag genetic variability and CD8 T-cell epitope evolution

Document Type



Medical College Pakistan; Biological and Biomedical Sciences


Currently, little is known about the time-dependent evolution of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) circulating recombinant forms (CRF) 01_AE, a dominant recombinant form associated with HIV-1 epidemics worldwide. Since gag is a highly immunodominant HIV-1 protein, we performed a comparative analysis of the CRF01_AE gag protein's time-dependent changes and evolution. A total of 3105 HIV-1 CRF01_AE gag sequences representing 17 countries from the timeline 1990-2017 were obtained. The sequences' phylogenetic relationship and epidemic dynamics were analyzed through a Maximum Likelihood tree and Bayesian Skyline plot, respectively. Genomic variability was measured through Shannon entropy and time-dependent immunoevolution was analyzed using changes in proteasomal degradation pattern, cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) epitopes, and Human leukocyte antigens (HLA) restriction profile. The most recent common ancestor of the HIV CRF01_AE epidemic was estimated to be 1974±1. A period of exponential growth in effective population size began in 1982, fluctuated, and then stabilized in 1999. Genetic variability (entropy) consistently increased, however, epitope variability remained comparable; the highest number of novel CTL epitopes were present in 1995-1999, which were lost over time. The spread of the HIV-1 CRF01_AE epidemic is predominant in countries within Asia. Population immunogenetic pressures in the region may have contributed to the initial changes and following adaptation/stabilization of epitope diversity within gag sequences.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

PloS one

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.