The new virus, which the scientists designate SIVgor, is notable for its close genetic relatedness to an unusual variant of HIV-1 termed ‘group O’ that infects and causes AIDS in humans in west central Africa.
The findings raise a host of new questions about the ability of immunodeficiency viruses to spread between species.
The scientists, led by Martine Peeters at the University of Montpellier, France, in collaboration with Paul Sharp at The University of Nottingham, UK, and Beatrice Hahn at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA, publish their findings in the November 9 issue of the scientific journal Nature.
Earlier this year, the same team of investigators traced the origins of the pandemic form of HIV-1 (termed group M) and a different non-pandemic form (group N) to distinct, geographically isolated chimpanzee communities in southern Cameroon. But the primate reservoir of the third lineage, HIV-1 group O, could not be identified.
In the present study, the team thus conducted the first-ever molecular epidemiological survey of SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) infection in wild-living gorillas.
By analyzing fecal samples collected from the forest floor at remote jungle regions in Cameroon, the Peeters and Hahn teams were able to detect SIVgor antibodies and nucleic acids (viral genetic information) in three gorillas living nearly 400 km apart. To their surprise, evolutionary analyses by The University of Nottingham group revealed that the newly identified SIVgor viruses were the closest known relatives of HIV-1 group O.
Despite the finding of SIV infection in gorillas, the present study reaffirms that chimpanzees likely served as the primary reservoir of SIVs now found in chimpanzees, gorillas and humans.
Dr Peeters said: “HIV-1 groups M and N clearly arose by transfer of viruses from chimpanzees to man, while the origin of HIV-1 group O is less clear.
“Chimpanzees could have transmitted group O-like viruses to gorillas and humans independently, or they could have transmitted the virus first to gorillas, which in turn transmitted it to humans.”
Dr Hahn said: “Either way, the finding of HIV-1 related viruses in wild gorillas opens a Pandora’s box of questions and speculation about the ability of these viruses to spread between species.”
Dr Sharp added: “This finding provides a unique opportunity to study host-specific adaptive changes in the virus and their effects on viral pathogenicity [the ability of an organism to cause disease in another organism] and disease outcome.”
In future studies, the team plans to determine the prevalence, geographic distribution and natural history of SIVgor infection, as well as the routes by which gorillas acquired SIVgor in the wild.
“The latter is quite a mystery,” said Fran Van Heuverswyn, a PhD student at the University of Montpellier and lead author of the study, “since gorillas are herbivores and physical encounters between gorillas and chimpanzees are believed to be rare. How is it then that gorillas became infected?”
Dr Peeters emphasized that the current study resulted from a close working partnership with Cameroonian government officials and with other collaborating scientists including Ying Ying Li, Bandon Keele, Weimin Liu and George Shaw from UAB; Cecile Neel, Florian Liegeois, Cristelle Butel and Eric Delaporte from the University of Montpellier, France; Elizabeth Bailes from The University of Nottingham, UK; and Severin Loul, Eitel Mpoudi Ngole and Yanga Bienvenue from the Project Prevention du Sida au Cameroun (PRESICA) in Cameroon.
Emma Thorne | alfa
Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled
24.04.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
Scientists generate an atlas of the human genome using stem cells
24.04.2018 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
24.04.2018 | Information Technology
24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences
24.04.2018 | Life Sciences