Revisiting the recombinant history of HIV-1 group M with dynamic network community detection.

Abayomi S Olabode, Garway T Ng, Kaitlyn E Wade, Mikhail Salnikov, Heather E Grant, David W Dick, Art F Y Poon, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 119, e2108815119 (2022)


The prevailing abundance of full-length HIV type 1 (HIV-1) genome sequences provides an opportunity to revisit the standard model of HIV-1 group M (HIV-1/M) diversity that clusters genomes into largely nonrecombinant subtypes, which is not consistent with recent evidence of deep recombinant histories for simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and other HIV-1 groups. Here we develop an unsupervised nonparametric clustering approach, which does not rely on predefined nonrecombinant genomes, by adapting a community detection method developed for dynamic social network analysis. We show that this method (dynamic stochastic block model [DSBM]) attains a significantly lower mean error rate in detecting recombinant breakpoints in simulated data (quasibinomial generalized linear model (GLM), P<8×10−8), compared to other reference-free recombination detection programs (genetic algorithm for recombination detection [GARD], recombination detection program 4 [RDP4], and RDP5). When this method was applied to a representative sample of n = 525 actual HIV-1 genomes, we determined k = 29 as the optimal number of DSBM clusters and used change-point detection to estimate that at least 95% of these genomes are recombinant. Further, we identified both known and undocumented recombination hotspots in the HIV-1 genome and evidence of intersubtype recombination in HIV-1 subtype reference genomes. We propose that clusters generated by DSBM can provide an informative framework for HIV-1 classification.