Intra-patient evolution of HIV-1


Richard Neher
Biozentrum, University of Basel

Evolution of HIV


  • Chimp → human transmission ~1900 gave rise to HIV-1 group M
  • Diversified into subtypes that are ~20% different
  • evolves at a rate of about 0.1% per year
image: Sharp and Hahn, CSH Persp. Med.


Population sequencing to track all mutations above 1%

  • diverge at 0.1-1% per year
  • almost full genomes coverage in 10 patients
  • full data set at hiv.tuebingen.mpg.de
Zanini et al, eLife, 2015; antibody data from Richman et al, 2003

Diversity and hitchhiking

  • envelope changes fastest, enzymes lowest
  • identical rate of synonymous evolution
  • diversity saturates where evolution is fast
  • synonymous mutations stay at low frequency
Zanini et al, eLife, 2015

Frequent version of previously beneficial mutations

  • HIV escapes immune systems
  • most mutations are costly
  • humans selects for different mutations
  • compensation or reversion?
Zanini et al, eLife, 2015

Fitness landscape of HIV-1

Zanini et al, Virus Evolution, 2017

Selection on RNA structures and regulatory sites

Zanini et al, Virus Evolution, 2017

The distribution of fitness effects

Zanini et al, Virus Evolution, 2017

Does HIV evolve during therapy?

Brodin et al, eLife, 2016

No evidence of ongoing replication

  • HIV-1 RNA from plasma before treatment started
  • HIV-1 DNA gag-p17 from PBMCs after many years of treatment
Brodin et al, eLife, 2016

No evidence of ongoing replication

Brodin et al, eLife, 2016

T-cell turnover is fast in untreated infection

  • latent HIV → barcode of a T-cell lineage
  • all latent integrated virus derives from late infection
  • untreated: T-cell lineages are short lived
  • on therapy: T-cell clones live decades
Brodin et al, eLife, 2016

HIV acknowledgments

  • Fabio Zanini
  • Jan Albert
  • Johanna Brodin
  • Christa Lanz
  • Göran Bratt
  • Lina Thebo
  • Vadim Puller

Influenza and Theory acknowledgments

  • Boris Shraiman
  • Colin Russell
  • Trevor Bedford
  • Oskar Hallatschek