Phylodynamics of HIV-1 Subtype C Epidemic in East Africa

University of Florida, United States of America
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 07/2012; 7(7):e41904. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041904
Source: PubMed


The HIV-1 subtype C accounts for an important fraction of HIV infections in east Africa, but little is known about the genetic characteristics and evolutionary history of this epidemic. Here we reconstruct the origin and spatiotemporal dynamics of the major HIV-1 subtype C clades circulating in east Africa. A large number (n = 1,981) of subtype C pol sequences were retrieved from public databases to explore relationships between strains from the east, southern and central African regions. Maximum-likelihood phylogenetic analysis of those sequences revealed that most (>70%) strains from east Africa segregated in a single regional-specific monophyletic group, here called C(EA). A second major Ethiopian subtype C lineage and a large collection of minor Kenyan and Tanzanian subtype C clades of southern African origin were also detected. A bayesian coalescent-based method was then used to reconstruct evolutionary parameters and migration pathways of the C(EA) African lineage. This analysis indicates that the C(EA) clade most probably originated in Burundi around the early 1960s, and later spread to Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, giving rise to major country-specific monophyletic sub-clusters between the early 1970s and early 1980s. The results presented here demonstrate that a substantial proportion of subtype C infections in east Africa resulted from dissemination of a single HIV local variant, probably originated in Burundi during the 1960s. Burundi was the most important hub of dissemination of that subtype C clade in east Africa, fueling the origin of new local epidemics in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Subtype C lineages of southern African origin have also been introduced in east Africa, but seem to have had a much more restricted spread.

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