Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Evidence Of Battle Between Humans And Ancient Virus

Date:
July 23, 2008
Source:
Rockefeller University
Summary:
Human ancestors fought back against an ancient retrovirus with a defense mechanism that our bodies still use today. Evidence of this battle has been preserved in our DNA for millions of years.

For millennia, humans and viruses have been locked in an evolutionary back-and-forth -- one changes to outsmart the other, prompting the second to change and outsmart the first. With retroviruses, which work by inserting themselves into their host's DNA, the evidence remains in our genes.

Related Articles


Last year, researchers at Rockefeller University and the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center brought an ancient retrovirus back to life and showed it could reproduce and infect human cells. Now, the same scientists have looked at the human side of the story and found evidence that our ancestors fought back against that virus with a defense mechanism our bodies still use today.

"This is the first time that we've been able to take an ancient retrovirus and analyze how it interacts with host defense mechanisms in the laboratory in the present day," says Paul Bieniasz, who is an associate professor and head of the Laboratory of Retrovirology at Rockefeller and a scientist at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center. Bieniasz and graduate student Youngnam Lee took their resurrected virus, called HERV-K, tested its strength against molecules involved in human antiviral defense.

Bieniasz, who also is an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Lee found that, at least in the laboratory, human cells infected with HERV-K fought back with several antiviral proteins. One of those proteins, called APOBEC3G, leaves a tell-tale signature behind: It mutates virus DNA in a recognizable pattern and is one our cells use to attack modern retroviruses. "But this is the first time it's been shown for this ancient retrovirus," Bieniasz says.

Once the scientists found that modern human cells attacked HERV-K with this molecule, they went back to look at the "fossil evidence," remnants of the virus that still remain in our genes and that the researchers had previously used to reconstruct it. What emerged were two copies of HERV-K that had clearly been mutated, and thus inactivated, by the APOBEC3G protein. "We're looking at things that happened millions and millions of years ago," says Lee. "But these sorts of ancient interactions may have influenced how humans are able to combat these retroviruses today. These proteins help protect us against current retroviruses." Indeed, HERV-K may well have helped to shape the modern APOBEC3G defense.

The earlier study and this one provide two sides of the evolutionary coin: the infectious agent, and the host defense. "Retroviruses are able to infect us and leave remnants in our DNA, and our DNA also holds evidence of what we've done to them in return," Lee says. "It's an illustration of the fight between host and virus."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Lee et al. Hypermutation of an ancient human retrovirus by APOBEC3G. Journal of Virology, 2008; DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00751-08

Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University. "New Evidence Of Battle Between Humans And Ancient Virus." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080721112616.htm>.
Rockefeller University. (2008, July 23). New Evidence Of Battle Between Humans And Ancient Virus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080721112616.htm
Rockefeller University. "New Evidence Of Battle Between Humans And Ancient Virus." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080721112616.htm (accessed April 19, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr. Oz Under Fire For 'Quack Treatments' Yet Again

Dr. Oz Under Fire For 'Quack Treatments' Yet Again

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Ten doctors signed a letter urging Columbia University to drop Dr. Oz as vice chair of its department of surgery, saying he plugs "quack" treatments. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers who analyzed data from over 300,000 kids and their mothers say they&apos;ve found a link between gestational diabetes and autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Family members are prerecording messages as part of a unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home in New York. The videos are trying to help victims of Alzheimer&apos;s disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness. (April 17) 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