Research Article

Timing the Ancestor of the HIV-1 Pandemic Strains

Science  09 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5472, pp. 1789-1796
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5472.1789

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Abstract

HIV-1 sequences were analyzed to estimate the timing of the ancestral sequence of the main group of HIV-1, the strains responsible for the AIDS pandemic. Using parallel supercomputers and assuming a constant rate of evolution, we applied maximum-likelihood phylogenetic methods to unprecedented amounts of data for this calculation. We validated our approach by correctly estimating the timing of two historically documented points. Using a comprehensive full-length envelope sequence alignment, we estimated the date of the last common ancestor of the main group of HIV-1 to be 1931 (1915–41). Analysis of a gag gene alignment, subregions of envelope including additional sequences, and a method that relaxed the assumption of a strict molecular clock also supported these results.

  • These authors contributed equally to this work.

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