Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic Mutation Protects Against Both HIV And Plague? Not So, Say Scientists At Scripps Research

Date:
February 12, 2004
Source:
Scripps Research Institute
Summary:
A group of scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have provided strong evidence that a popular hypothesis concerning the origins of a genetic mutation common among Caucasians of Northern European descent that protects against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is wrong.

La Jolla, CA, February 11, 2004 -- A group of scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have provided strong evidence that a popular hypothesis concerning the origins of a genetic mutation common among Caucasians of Northern European descent that protects against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is wrong.

The hypothesis suggests that the mutation conferred resistance against bubonic plague in the Middle Ages, much as it does against HIV today. This idea was based on the fact that the mutation first appeared around the same time that the "Black Death" plague epidemic killed a third of Europe's population in the years 1346–1352. Since HIV was not present in Europe at this time, individuals with the mutation must have been protected against some other disease.

In a brief communication to be published this week in the journal Nature, Scripps Research Immunology Professor Donald Mosier and his colleagues show this hypothesis to be incorrect.

Mosier performed studies that demonstrate that the mutation does not protect against plague infection in mouse models and that it is unlikely to have offered any protection against the plague in humans during the Middle Ages.

An Important Receptor

The mutation in question is in the C–C chemokine receptor 5 gene, which makes the human receptor protein called CCR5. CCR5 is a seven trans-membrane spanning protein of 332 amino acids that inserts into the cell membranes of human CD4+ T helper cells. HIV particles use CCR5 to gain entry into CD4+ T cells.

The CCR5 32 mutation—a deletion of 32 bases of DNA from the CCR5 gene—was first identified in 1996 in individuals who seemed to be protected from infection with HIV despite having had multiple high-risk exposures to the virus.

The resistant individuals all had the 32-base pair mutation in their CCR5 genes, and that left them with CD4+ T cells with no CCR5 receptors, conferring resistance to HIV infection. Later data showed that individuals

who were heterozygous for the mutation had lower CCR5 expression levels, less cell-to-cell infection, and brighter clinical prognoses.

In order to test the HIV–plague hypothesis, an attenuated, non-transmissible form of Yersinia pestis, the bacterial cause of plague, was tested on mice both with and without the CCR5 32 mutation. There was no difference in susceptibility between the two groups, says Mosier.

The possibility still exists, says Mosier, that the CCR5 32 mutation arose due to the influence of some other disease that was prevalent in the Middle Ages, such as smallpox. Mosier plans to address this possibility next.

The brief communication, "CCR5 mutation and protection against plague" was authored by Joan Mecsas, Greg Franklin,William A. Kuziel, Robert R. Brubaker, Stanley Falkow, and Donald E. Mosier and appears in the February 12, 2004 issue of the journal Nature.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, is one of the world's largest, private, non-profit biomedical research organizations. It stands at the forefront of basic biomedical science that seeks to comprehend the most fundamental processes of life. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its research into immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neurosciences, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases and synthetic vaccine development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Scripps Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Scripps Research Institute. "Genetic Mutation Protects Against Both HIV And Plague? Not So, Say Scientists At Scripps Research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040212083108.htm>.
Scripps Research Institute. (2004, February 12). Genetic Mutation Protects Against Both HIV And Plague? Not So, Say Scientists At Scripps Research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040212083108.htm
Scripps Research Institute. "Genetic Mutation Protects Against Both HIV And Plague? Not So, Say Scientists At Scripps Research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040212083108.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins