Bayesian nonparametric clustering in phylogenetics: modeling antigenic evolution in influenza

Cybis GB, Sinsheimer JS, Bedford T, Rambaut A, Lemey P, Suchard MA. 2017. Stat Med. In press.


Influenza is responsible for up to 500,000 deaths every year, and antigenic variability represents much of its epidemiological burden. To visualize antigenic differences across many viral strains, antigenic cartography methods use multidimensional scaling on binding assay data to map influenza antigenicity onto a low-dimensional space. Analysis of such assay data ideally leads to natural clustering of influenza strains of similar antigenicity that correlate with sequence evolution. To understand the dynamics of these antigenic groups, we present a framework that jointly models genetic and antigenic evolution by combining multidimensional scaling of binding assay data, Bayesian phylogenetic machinery and nonparametric clustering methods. We propose a phylogenetic Chinese restaurant process that extends the current process to incorporate the phylogenetic dependency structure between strains in the modeling of antigenic clusters. With this method, we are able to use the genetic information to better understand the evolution of antigenicity throughout epidemics, as shown in applications of this model to H1N1 influenza.