Mullins Molecular Retrovirology Lab

  • Department of Microbiology
  • School of Medicine
  • University of Washington
University of Washington/Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research

Citation Information

Lewitus E, Sanders-Buell E, Bose M, O'Sullivan AM, Poltavee K, Li Y, Bai H, Mdluli T, Donofrio G, Slike B, Zhao H, Wong K, Chen L, Miller S, Lee J, Ahani B, Lepore S, Muhammad S, Grande R, Tran U, Dussupt V, Mendez-Rivera L, Nitayaphan S, Kaewkungwal J, Pitisuttithum P, Rerks-Ngarm S, O'Connell RJ, Janes H, Gilbert PB, Gramzinski R, Vasan S, Robb ML, Michael NL, Krebs SJ, Herbeck JT, Edlefsen PT, Mullins JI, Kim JH, Tovanabutra S, Rolland M (2021). RV144 vaccine imprinting constrained HIV-1 evolution following breakthrough infection. Virus evolution, 7(2), veab057. (pubmed) (doi)


The scale of the HIV-1 epidemic underscores the need for a vaccine. The multitude of circulating HIV-1 strains together with HIV-1’s high evolvability hints that HIV-1 could adapt to a future vaccine. Here, we wanted to investigate the effect of vaccination on the evolution of the virus post-breakthrough infection. We analyzed 2,635 HIV-1 env sequences sampled up to a year post-diagnosis from 110 vaccine and placebo participants who became infected in the RV144 vaccine efficacy trial. We showed that the Env signature sites that were previously identified to distinguish vaccine and placebo participants were maintained over time. In addition, fewer sites were under diversifying selection in the vaccine group than in the placebo group. These results indicate that HIV-1 would possibly adapt to a vaccine upon its roll-out.