Navigation Links
Retrovirus struck ancestors of chimpanzees and gorillas millions of years ago, but did not affect ancestral humans

The ancestors of chimpanzees and gorillas were infected with a deadly retrovirus about three to four million years ago, but there is no evidence it infected ancestors of modern-day humans, according to research by genome scientists. The virus struck after humans had split off the evolutionary tree from primates, researchers said. The infection may have played a role in the evolution of such great apes as chimps and gorillas. The research appears in the April issue of the journal Public Library of Science-Biology, which is available online on March 1.

Researchers studying portions of the genome containing 'retroelements,' also known as junk DNA, found many copies of a gene sequence in the chimp and gorilla genome that didn't appear anywhere in the human genome. They translated that genome sequence into its corresponding protein, and discovered that it was the remnant of a retrovirus, a type of virus that copies its genetic information into the host's genome. Evidence suggests that the 'retroelement' originated from an external retrovirus that actively infected ape species in the past.

"The reason retroviruses are so deadly, at the genetic level, is that they have a tremendous potential to mess up a gene and interfere with its expression," explained Dr. Evan Eichler, UW associate professor of genome sciences and co-author of the study. "That can have negative effects. It's a double-whammy: the virus infected and possibly killed off some of the population, but also caused genetic errors in survivors. Those errors would have later eliminated more of the population."

The virus had invaded the genome in the germline -- in sperm or egg cells -- allowing the sequence to be passed on to future generations. In those animals in which the virus was taken up next to or inside a gene -- in the part of the genome that codes for the most important biological functions -- the virus had an even stronger effect.

What researchers don't understand is why t he virus affected the ancestors of chimps, gorillas, and Old World monkeys, but didn't affect the ancestors of humans or of Asian apes like orangutans and gibbons. The infections took place independently, and did not originate in a common ancestor of humans and apes. The event also took place between three and four million years ago, well after the separation of humans from apes. That split is estimated to have occurred five to seven million years ago. During that period, ancestral humans were likely to be living in the same area of Africa as great apes. African apes may have been susceptibile to the virus, or ancestral humans and Asian apes may have been resistant to it. Another possibility is that some early humans may have carried the virus, but eventually died off.

Researchers also don't know the impact the virus had on the primate species it did affect. They found many copies of the virus in the genomes of both species, but only a tiny fraction of those copies landed in or near a gene, where it would have the greatest impact. Other studies have shown that most retroviruses typically land near or within genes. This difference may mean the animals that had the virus taken up in or near a gene didn't survive long. Because of that natural selection, researchers believe that the virus may have had major impacts on the formation of the species we now call chimps and gorillas. The virus struck when each of the primate groups was still an incipient species with widely varying populations.

If the virus had killed off much of the population of both species, it may have created what evolutionary biologists call a population bottleneck. This much smaller group of surviving animals would then sort out most of its genetic variation in relatively fewer generations than would a larger group. This would lead to a higher probability of rare genetic variants becoming fixed in a short time. Before long, a genetically disparate population, possibly with wide variati ons in morphology, would have emerged, leading to today's chimps and gorillas.

The study's lead authors are Zhaoshi Jiang, a Ph.D. student in Eichler's lab at the UW, and Chris Yohn, a technician at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.


'"/>

Source:University of Washington


Related biology news :

1. New technology shows our ancestors ate…everything!
2. Why we give: New study finds evidence of generosity among our early human ancestors
3. Protowings may have helped bird ancestors cover rough terrain
4. Mans earliest direct ancestors looked more apelike than previously believed
5. Poaching, logging, and outbreaks of Ebola threaten central African gorillas and chimpanzees
6. UAB researchers confirm HIV-1 originated in wild chimpanzees
7. Male chimpanzees prefer mating with old females
8. Road-crossing in chimpanzees: A risky business
9. Gene study shows three distinct groups of chimpanzees
10. Ebola outbreaks killing thousands of gorillas and chimpanzees
11. Female-led infanticide in wild chimpanzees
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:4/28/2016)... April 28, 2016 First quarter 2016:   ... 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 The ... 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) ... Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) ... guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016 ... the,  "Global Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160330/349511LOGO ) , ,The global gait biometrics ... of 13.98% during the period 2016-2020. ... angles, which can be used to compute factors ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... March 29, 2016 LegacyXChange, Inc. ... "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to announce our ... in a variety of writing instruments, ensuring athletes signatures ... created collectibles from athletes on LegacyXChange will be assured ... the DNA. Bill Bollander , CEO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company dedicated to ... medical community, has closed its Series A funding round, ... "We have received a commitment from Forentis ... need to meet our current goals," stated Matthew ... runway to complete validation on the current projects in ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, the NASDAQ ... Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.27% lower to finish at ... Stock-Callers.com has initiated coverage on the following equities: Infinity Pharmaceuticals ... NKTR ), Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ARLZ ... Learn more about these stocks by accessing their free trade ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... Regulatory Compliance Associates® Inc. (RCA), a ... webinar on Performing Quality Investigations: Getting to Root Cause. This ... charge. , Incomplete investigations are still a major concern to the Regulatory Authorities ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN ... QB3@953 life sciences incubator to accelerate the ... shared laboratory space at QB3@953 was created to help ... obstacle for many early stage organizations - access to ... sponsorship, Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, providing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: