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Human immunodeficiency virus

Phylogeny and the origin of HIV-1


The origin of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is controversial. We show here that viruses obtained from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa have a quantitatively different phylogenetic tree structure from those sampled in other parts of the world. This indicates that the structure of HIV-1 phylogenies is the result of epidemiological processes acting within human populations alone, and is not due to multiple cross-species transmission initiated by oral polio vaccination.

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Figure 1: Maximum-likelihood phylogenies were estimated for three V3–V5 data sets: HIV-1 sequences from the Democratic Republic of Congo (423 base pairs), global isolates (426 base pairs), and Congo and global isolates combined (396 base pairs).


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Correspondence to Edward C. Holmes.

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Rambaut, A., Robertson, D., Pybus, O. et al. Phylogeny and the origin of HIV-1. Nature 410, 1047–1048 (2001).

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