Journal of virological methods 2016 11 17240() 7-13 pii 10.1016/j.jviromet.2016.11.008
Genotypic monitoring of drug-resistance mutations (DRMs) in HIV-1 infected individuals is strongly recommended to guide selection of the initial antiretroviral therapy (ART) and changes of drug regimens. Traditionally, mutations conferring drug resistance are detected by population sequencing of the reverse transcribed viral RNA encoding the HIV-1 enzymes target by ART, followed by manual analysis and interpretation of Sanger sequencing traces. This process is labor intensive, relies on subjective interpretation from the operator, and offers limited sensitivity as only mutations above 20% frequency can be reliably detected. Here we present MinVar, a pipeline for the analysis of deep sequencing data, which allows reliable and automated detection of DRMs down to 5%. We evaluated MinVar with data from amplicon sequencing of defined mixtures of molecular virus clones with known DRM and plasma samples of viremic HIV-1 infected individuals and we compared it to VirVarSeq, another virus variant detection tool exclusively working on Illumina deep sequencing data. MinVar was designed to be compatible with a diverse range of sequencing platforms and allows the detection of DRMs and insertions/deletions from deep sequencing data without the need to perform additional bioinformatics analysis, a prerequisite to a widespread implementation of HIV-1 genotyping using deep sequencing in routine diagnostic settings.