Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Monkey Gene That Blocks AIDS Viruses Evolved More Than Once

Date:
March 3, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Researchers at Harvard Medical School have identified a gene in Asian monkeys that may have evolved as a defense against lentiviruses, the group of viruses that includes HIV. The study suggests that AIDS is not a new epidemic.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have identified a gene in Asian monkeys that may have evolved as a defense against lentiviruses, the group of viruses that includes HIV. The study suggests that AIDS is not a new epidemic.

The gene, called TRIM5-CypA, well characterized elsewhere (AIDS, 2007; PNAS, 2008), is a hybrid of two existing cellular genes, TRIM5 and CypA. The combination produces a single protein capable of blocking infection by viruses closely related to HIV. Surprisingly, this is actually the second time researchers have identified a TRIM5-CypA gene in monkeys. The other hybrid gene, called TRIMCyp, was discovered in 2004 in South American owl monkeys.

Normally, evolutionary biologists assume that similar DNA sequences, present in the same location in the genomes of two or more species, evolved only once. In this scenario, the gene arises first in a common ancestor and is subsequently inherited by all the species that descend from that ancestor. In the case of TRIM5-CypA and TRIMCyp, this does not appear to be the case.

TRIM5-CypA was not found in monkeys closely related to the Asian macaques, and in fact, was not found in every macaque individual tested. Likewise, owl monkey TRIMCyp was not found in any other species of South American primate. Researchers interpret this to mean that the two genes arose independently, once in owl monkeys and once in macaques. More tellingly, even though the protein sequences specified by the two TRIM5-CypA genes are similar, at the DNA level it is obvious that the molecular events leading to formation of the two genes were different.

Evolutionary biologists refer to the acquisition of a similar adaptation in different species as "convergent evolution," an example being the independent appearance of flight in both birds and bats. The Harvard team's genetic evidence indicates that the two TRIM5-CypA genes constitute an unambiguous and particularly striking example of convergent evolution. Moreover, the kinds of molecular events required to construct the two TRIM5-CypA genes are thought to be rare.

That the process occurred at least twice during primate evolution suggests that the combination of the TRIM5 and CypA genes provided a strong evolutionary advantage to the individuals in which they originally appeared. An intriguing possibility is that the newly formed genes prevented infection by prehistoric viruses related to modern AIDS viruses. If so, this could mean that AIDS-like epidemics are not unique to our time, but in fact may have plagued our primate ancestors long before the modern AIDS epidemic.

Journal reference: Newman RM, Hall L, Kirmaier A, Pozzi L-A, Pery E, et al. (2008) Evolution of a TRIM5-CypA Splice Isoform in Old World Monkeys. PLoS Pathog 4(2): e1000003. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000003 http://www.plospathogens.org/doi/ppat.1000003


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Monkey Gene That Blocks AIDS Viruses Evolved More Than Once." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080229075240.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, March 3). Monkey Gene That Blocks AIDS Viruses Evolved More Than Once. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080229075240.htm
Public Library of Science. "Monkey Gene That Blocks AIDS Viruses Evolved More Than Once." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080229075240.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) 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:
from the past week

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