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Genomics. 2008 Nov;92(5):322-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ygeno.2008.07.003. Epub 2008 Sep 18.

Genetic subspecies diversity of the chimpanzee CD4 virus-receptor gene.

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Research and Conservation, Copenhagen Zoo, Frederiksberg, Denmark.


Chimpanzees are naturally and asymptomatically infected by simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Pathogenic properties of SIV/HIV vary and differences in susceptibility and pathogenicity of SIV/HIV depend in part on host-specific factors such as virus-receptor/co-receptor interactions. Since CD4 plays a primary role in virus binding and since SIVcpz have been found only in two African chimpanzee subspecies, we characterized the genetic diversity of CD4 receptors in all four recognized subspecies of chimpanzees. We found noticeable variation in the first variable region V1 of CD4 and in intron six among the subspecies of chimpanzees. We found the CD4 receptor to be conserved in individuals belonging to the P. t. verus subspecies and divergent from the other three subspecies, which harbored highly variable CD4 receptors. The CD4 receptor of chimpanzees differed from that of humans. We question whether the observed diversity can explain the species-specific differences in susceptibility to and pathogenicity of SIV/HIV.

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