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Monkey gene that blocks AIDS

February 29th, 2008 · No Comments

The Evolution Of The Monkey Gene That Blocks AIDS
There is a gene in Asian monkeys that could have evolved as protection against lentiviruses such as HIV, according to an article written by researchers at Harvard Medical School that is published in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.

The well-characterized gene – TRIM5-CypA – is a hybrid of TRIM5 and CypA, two genes that already exist. The hybrid produces a single protein that can protect from viral infections such the ones closely related to HIV. This is not the first time that a TRIM5-CypA gene was found in monkeys. In 2004, researchers found a hybrid gene called TRIMCyp in South American owl monkeys.

It is standard practice among evolutionary biologists to assume that if similar DNA sequences are found in the same place in the genomes of more than one species, then the sequence evolved only once. There is a common ancestor that first has the gene, and all species that descend from the ancestor inherit it. However, this does not seem to be the history of TRIM5-CypA and TRIMCyp.

Tags: Evolution

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