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PLoS Pathog. 2013 Jan;9(1):e1003135. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003135. Epub 2013 Jan 24.

Convergence and divergence in the evolution of the APOBEC3G-Vif interaction reveal ancient origins of simian immunodeficiency viruses.

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Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America.


Naturally circulating lentiviruses are abundant in African primate species today, yet their origins and history of transmitting between hosts remain obscure. As a means to better understand the age of primate lentiviruses, we analyzed primate genomes for signatures of lentivirus-driven evolution. Specifically, we studied the adaptive evolution of host restriction factor APOBEC3G (A3G) in Old World Monkey (OWM) species. We find recurrent mutation of A3G in multiple primate lineages at sites that determine susceptibility to antagonism by the lentiviral accessory protein Vif. Using a broad panel of SIV Vif isolates, we demonstrate that natural variation in OWM A3G confers resistance to Vif-mediated degradation, suggesting that adaptive variants of the host factor were selected upon exposure to pathogenic lentiviruses at least 5-6 million years ago (MYA). Furthermore, in members of the divergent Colobinae subfamily of OWM, a multi-residue insertion event in A3G that arose at least 12 MYA blocks the activity of Vif, suggesting an even more ancient origin of SIV. Moreover, analysis of the lentiviruses associated with Colobinae monkeys reveal that the interface of the A3G-Vif interaction has shifted and given rise to a second genetic conflict. Our analysis of virus-driven evolution describes an ancient yet ongoing genetic conflict between simian primates and lentiviruses on a million-year time scale.

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