HIV-1 Tat is a regulatory protein that plays a pivotal role in viral transcription and replication. Our study aims to investigate the genetic variation of Tat exon 1 in all subtypes of HIV-1: A, B, C, D, F, G, H, J, and K. We performed phylogenetic, mutation, and selection pressure analyses on a total of 1,179 sequences of different subtypes of HIV-1 Tat obtained from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The mean nucleotide divergences (%) among the analyzed sequences of subtypes A, B, C, D, F, G, H, J, and K were 88, 89, 90, 88, 86, 89, 88, 97, and 97, respectively. We revealed that subtype B evolved relatively faster than other subtypes. The second and fifth domains were found comparatively more variable among all subtypes. Site-by-site tests of positive selection revealed that several positions in all subtypes were under significant positive selection. Positively selected sites were found in the acidic domain at positions 3, 4, and 19, in the cysteine-rich domains at positions 24, 29, 32, and 36, in the core domain at position 40, and in the basic domain for the rest of the positions for all subtypes. Positions 58 and 68 in the basic domain were positively selected in subtypes A, B, C and B, C, F, respectively. We also observed high variability within positively selected sites in amino acid positions. Our study findings on HIV-1 Tat genetic variability may contribute to a better understanding of HIV-1 evolution as well as to the development of effective Tat-targeted therapeutics and vaccines.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases