Restriction of an Extinct Retrovirus by the Human TRIM5α Antiviral Protein

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Science  22 Jun 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5832, pp. 1756-1758
DOI: 10.1126/science.1140579

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Primate genomes contain a large number of endogenous retroviruses and encode evolutionarily dynamic proteins that provide intrinsic immunity to retroviral infections. We report here the resurrection of the core protein of a 4-million-year-old endogenous virus from the chimpanzee genome and show that the human variant of the intrinsic immune protein TRIM5α can actively prevent infection by this virus. However, we suggest that selective changes that have occurred in the human lineage during the acquisition of resistance to this virus, and perhaps similar viruses, may have left our species more susceptible to infection by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1).

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