New paper on primate vs. lentivirus arms race

28 Jan 2012, by Erick

The FHCRC has fantastic scientists, and it’s been a pleasure getting to know them. We’ve recently begun working with the labs of Harmit Malik and Michael Emerman. This week marked the first product of these collaborations, with a paper in Cell Host and Microbe on the evolution of the Vpr and and Vpx genes in primate lentiviruses (the viral genus containing HIV). These genes (sometimes, in a host-specific way) degrade a host factor, SAMHD1, that restricts HIV infection. This work gives evidence of an “arms race” between SAMHD1 and Vpr/Vpx, and a phylogenetic analysis suggests that the Vpr gene obtained SAMHD1 degradation capability prior to the birth of the Vpx gene. We had a small part in helping with the phylogenetic analysis for this paper. The paper was evaluated on the F1000 site.

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