HIV-1 and HIV-2 exhibit similar mutation frequencies and spectra in the absence of G-to-A hypermutation

Jonathan M.O. Rawson, Sean R. Landman, Cavan S. Reilly, Louis M. Mansky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2) is often distinguished clinically by lower viral loads, reduced transmissibility, and longer asymptomatic periods than for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Differences in the mutation frequencies of HIV-1 and HIV-2 have been hypothesized to contribute to the attenuated progression of HIV-2 observed clinically. Results: To address this hypothesis, we performed Illumina sequencing of multiple amplicons prepared from cells infected with HIV-1 or HIV-2, resulting in ~4.7 million read pairs and the identification of ~200,000 mutations after data processing. We observed that: (1) HIV-2 displayed significantly lower total mutation, substitution, and transition mutation frequencies than that of HIV-1, along with a mutation spectrum markedly less biased toward G-to-A transitions, (2) G-to-A hypermutation consistent with the activity of APOBEC3 proteins was observed for both HIV-1 and HIV-2 despite the presence of Vif, (3) G-to-A hypermutation was significantly higher for HIV-1 than for HIV-2, and (4) HIV-1 and HIV-2 total mutation frequencies were not significantly different in the absence of G-to-A hypermutants. Conclusions: Taken together, these data demonstrate that HIV-2 exhibits a distinct mutational spectrum and a lower mutation frequency relative to HIV-1. However, the observed differences were primarily due to reduced levels of G-to-A hypermutation for HIV-2. These findings suggest that HIV-2 may be less susceptible than HIV-1 to APOBEC3-mediated hypermutation, but that the fidelities of other mutational sources (such as reverse transcriptase) are relatively similar for HIV-1 and HIV-2. Overall, these data imply that differences in replication fidelity are likely not a major contributing factor to the unique clinical features of HIV-2 infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number60
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 10 2015


  • HIV-1
  • HIV-2
  • Hypermutation
  • Viral evolution
  • Viral mutagenesis

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