Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Observing evolution in real time

14.12.2015

HIV mutates rapidly and forms countless virus variants in the patient. A collaboration of scientists from the group of Dr. Richard Neher, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, and scientists from Stockholm analyzed the evolution of HIV using patient samples from early to chronic infection.

To characterize the evolution and adaptation of HIV variants, the researchers analyzed the viral RNA from samples of HIV-infected patients for several years, using cutting-edge sequencing methods.


HIV-infected T cell

NIAID/flickr.com CC BY 2.0

The scientists could show that the development of virus variants in each individual follows reproducible patterns. Certain regions of the virus accumulate mutations much faster than others: regions in the DNA that contain important functions for the virus reproduction vary less and almost all viruses from one sample have the same sequence at such sites.

At other sites of the genome, where mutations are not as detrimental for the virus, variation increases steadily and for a large fraction of these sites alternative variations circulate in the virus population. This diversity allows the viral population to adapt rapidly.

The viruses change at up to one percent of genome positions per year – this corresponds to the difference between human and chimpanzee. The frequent mutations help the virus to hide from the immune system – at the expense of the viral functionality. The scientists calculated the globally most frequent state for every site in the HIV genome.

They compared this global consensus sequence with the sequences from the patient samples. Surprisingly, 30 percent of all variations were reversions towards the consensus sequence. “One of our principal observations was that the virus has a kind of favourite sequence. The immune system pushes the virus away from this sequence. When the pressure of the immune system ceases, the viruses go back to this sequence”, explains Neher.

This happens for example when the virus is transmitted to another person, whose immune system recognizes other parts of the virus.

The results could also help to find vaccines against HIV: “Although HIV exists in many different strains, we found that the weak points of the virus are often the same in completely unrelated infections. One should now focus on these common weak points to develop vaccines”, says Fabio Zanini, first author of the study.

The development of HIV in the patients is also a good model to analyze general dynamics of evolution. In the case of HIV, the scientists can observe evolution directly from year to year and study processes that would take millions of years in other organisms.

Original Publication:
Population genomics of intrapatient HIV-1 evolution
http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.11282
Contents, including text, figures, and data, are free to reuse under a CC BY 4.0 license.

Contact:
Dr. Richard Neher
Mail: richard.neher@tuebingen.mpg.de

Nadja Winter (Pressereferentin)
Tel.: 07071 601-444
Mail: presse-eb@tuebingen.mpg.de

About us:
The Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology conducts basic research in the fields of biochemistry, genetics and evolutionary biology. It employs about 360 people and is located at the Max Planck Campus in Tübingen. The Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology is one of 83 research institutes that the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science maintains in Germany.

Weitere Informationen:

http://elifesciences.org/content/early/2015/12/11/eLife.11282

Nadja Winter | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie
Further information:
http://eb.mpg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells
22.02.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital

nachricht New insights into the information processing of motor neurons
22.02.2017 | Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>