Genetic and phylogenetic analyses of HIV-1 corroborate the transmission link hypothesis

J Clin Virol. 2004 May;30(1):11-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2003.08.008.


Background: Phylogenetic and genetic analyses have proven a valuable tool to infer epidemiological links between human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) isolates. These methods were applied in the present report for studying the genetic relatedness of the viral strains involved in two episodes of suspected HIV-1 transmission.

Objectives: Provide any evidence that may help establish or refute the transmission link.

Study design: In the first case, a leukemic patient became HIV-1 positive following the transfusion of platelets from a donor who was subsequently found to have tested false HIV-seronegative and to be sexual partner to an infected woman. In the second, a wife claimed to have acquired the infection from her husband who had concealed his infected status.

Results and conclusions: The viral pairs detected in each of the suspected transmission cases exhibited common amino acid signatures and low genetic distances and segregated together in phylogenetic trees, thus showing a level of genetic relatedness similar to reference pairs known with certainty to be epidemiologically linked. These findings corroborated the existence of a direct transmission link in both the episodes with a high level of confidence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA, Complementary / chemistry
  • DNA, Complementary / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / genetics
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1 / classification*
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Epidemiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • DNA, Complementary
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120
  • HIV envelope protein gp120 (305-321)
  • Peptide Fragments
  • RNA, Viral

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AJ440225
  • GENBANK/AJ440226
  • GENBANK/AJ440227
  • GENBANK/AJ440228
  • GENBANK/AJ440229