Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Identifying human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) immune escape mutations has implications for understanding the impact of host immunity on pathogen evolution and guiding the choice of vaccine antigens. One means of identifying cytotoxic-T-lymphocyte (CTL) escape mutations is to search for statistical associations between mutations and host human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I alleles at the population level. The impact of evolutionary rates on the strength of such associations is not well defined. Here, we address this topic using a mathematical model of within-host evolution and between-host transmission of CTL escape mutants that predicts the prevalence of escape mutants at the population level. We ask how the rates at which an escape mutation emerges in a host who bears the restricting HLA and reverts when transmitted to a host who does not bear the HLA affect the strength of an association. We consider the impact of these factors when using a standard statistical method to test for an association and when using an adaptation of that method that corrects for phylogenetic relationships. We show that with both methods, the average sample size required to identify an escape mutation is smaller if the mutation escapes and reverts quickly. Thus, escape mutations identified as HLA associated systematically favor those that escape and revert rapidly. We also present expressions that can be used to infer escape and reversion rates from cross-sectional escape prevalence data.

Original publication




Journal article


J Virol

Publication Date





8568 - 8580


Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte, Genes, MHC Class I, HIV, HIV Infections, Humans, Models, Theoretical, Mutation, Phylogeny, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic, Viral Proteins