Streamlined Subpopulation, Subtype, and Recombination Analysis of HIV-1 Half-Genome Sequences Generated by High-Throughput Sequencing.


High-throughput sequencing (HTS) has been widely used to characterize HIV-1 genome sequences. There are no algorithms currently that can directly determine genotype and quasispecies population using short HTS reads generated from long genome sequences without additional software. To establish a robust subpopulation, subtype, and recombination analysis workflow, we amplified the HIV-1 3'-half genome from plasma samples of 65 HIV-1-infected individuals and sequenced the entire amplicon (∼4,500 bp) by HTS. With direct analysis of raw reads using HIVE-hexahedron, we showed that 48% of samples harbored 2 to 13 subpopulations. We identified various subtypes (17 A1s, 4 Bs, 27 Cs, 6 CRF02_AGs, and 11 unique recombinant forms) and defined recombinant breakpoints of 10 recombinants. These results were validated with viral genome sequences generated by single genome sequencing (SGS) or the analysis of consensus sequence of the HTS reads. The HIVE-hexahedron workflow is more sensitive and accurate than just evaluating the consensus sequence and also more cost-effective than SGS.IMPORTANCE The highly recombinogenic nature of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) leads to recombination and emergence of quasispecies. It is important to reliably identify subpopulations to understand the complexity of a viral population for drug resistance surveillance and vaccine development. High-throughput sequencing (HTS) provides improved resolution over Sanger sequencing for the analysis of heterogeneous viral subpopulations. However, current methods of analysis of HTS reads are unable to fully address accurate population reconstruction. Hence, there is a dire need for a more sensitive, accurate, user-friendly, and cost-effective method to analyze viral quasispecies. For this purpose, we have improved the HIVE-hexahedron algorithm that we previously developed with in silico short sequences to analyze raw HTS short reads. The significance of this study is that our standalone algorithm enables a streamlined analysis of quasispecies, subtype, and recombination patterns from long HIV-1 genome regions without the need of additional sequence analysis tools. Distinct viral populations and recombination patterns identified by HIVE-hexahedron are further validated by comparison with sequences obtained by single genome sequencing (SGS).





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Publication Info

Hora, Bhavna, Naila Gulzar, Yue Chen, Konstantinos Karagiannis, Fangping Cai, Chang Su, Krista Smith, Vahan Simonyan, et al. (2020). Streamlined Subpopulation, Subtype, and Recombination Analysis of HIV-1 Half-Genome Sequences Generated by High-Throughput Sequencing. mSphere, 5(5). 10.1128/msphere.00551-20 Retrieved from

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Thomas Norton Denny

Professor in Medicine

Thomas N. Denny, MSc, M.Phil, is the Chief Operating Officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI), Associate Dean for Duke Research and Discovery @RTP, and a Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center. He is also an Affiliate Member of the Duke Global Health Institute. Previously, he served on the Health Sector Advisory Council of the Duke University Fuquay School of Business. Prior to joining Duke, he was an Associate Professor of Pathology, Laboratory Medicine and Pediatrics, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and Assistant Dean for Research in Health Policy at the New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey. He has served on numerous committees for the NIH over the last two decades and currently is the principal investigator of an NIH portfolio in excess of 65 million dollars. Mr. Denny was a 2002-2003 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM). As a fellow, he served on the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee with legislation/policy responsibilities in global AIDS, bioterrorism, clinical trials/human subject protection and vaccine related-issues.

As the Chief Operating Officer of the DHVI, Mr. Denny has senior oversight of the DHVI research portfolio and the units/teams that support the DHVI mission. He has extensive international experience and previously was a consultant to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) project to oversee the development of an HIV and Public Health Center of Excellence laboratory network in Guyana. In September 2004, the IOM appointed him as a consultant to their Board on Global Health Committee studying the options for overseas placement of U.S. health professionals and the development of an assessment plan for activities related to the 2003 PEPFAR legislative act. In the 1980s, Mr. Denny helped establish a small laboratory in the Republic of Kalmykia (former Soviet Union) to improve the care of children with HIV/AIDS and served as a Board Member of the Children of Chernobyl Relief Fund Foundation. In 2005, Mr. Denny was named a consulting medical/scientific officer to the WHO Global AIDS Program in Geneva. He has also served as program reviewers for the governments of the Netherlands and South Africa as well as an advisor to several U.S. biotech companies. He currently serves as the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for Grid Biosciences.

Mr. Denny has authored and co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and serves on the editorial board of Communications in Cytometry and Journal of Clinical Virology. He holds an M.Sc in Molecular and Biomedical Immunology from the University of East London and a degree in Medical Law (M.Phil) from the Institute of Law and Ethics in Medicine, School of Law, University of Glasgow. In 1991, he completed a course of study in Strategic Management at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. In 1993, he completed the Program for Advanced Training in Biomedical Research Management at Harvard School of Public Health. In December 2005, he was inducted as a Fellow into the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest medical society in the US.

While living in New Jersey, Mr. Denny was active in his community, gaining additional experience from two publicly elected positions. In 2000, Mr. Denny was selected by the New Jersey League of Municipalities to Chair the New Jersey Community Mental Health Citizens’ Advisory Board and Mental Health Planning Council as a gubernatorial appointment.


Feng Gao

Professor Emeritus in Medicine

Dr. Feng Gao is Professor of Medicine at Duke University. The Gao laboratory has a long-standing interest in elucidating the origins and evolution of human and simian inmmunodeficiency viruses (HIV and SIV), and in studying HIV/SIV gene function and pathogenic mechanisms from the evolutionary perspective. These studies have led to new strategies to better understand HIV origins,  biology, pathogenesis and drug resistance, and to design new AIDS vaccines.

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