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Implications for SIV-host coevolution

Posted by vmuller on 20 Mar 2009 at 16:26 GMT

I am reading the accumulating evidence for endogenous lentiviruses with great interest, in particular as we are inching closer to the current host range of SIVs. We put forward a hypothesis (Müller & De Boer 2006, PLoS Pathog 2(3), e15.) speculating that endogenous SIV might potentially provide protection against SIV-induced chronic immune activation, which seems to be the main cause of pathogenesis in non-adapted host species. If this were true, germline invasion of SIVs might have been 'embraced' by host evolution and might have been the path towards the relatively benign coexistence observed in natural hosts of SIVs. An obvious pre-requisite for the hypothesis is the possibility of SIV endogenization in the current host range, for which we have no direct evidence to date. The demonstration of multiple lentiviral lineages in primates now increases the likelihood that such evidence might be found eventually.

Viktor Müller
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

No competing interests declared.

RE: Implications for SIV-host coevolution

clem_gilbert replied to vmuller on 26 Mar 2009 at 22:24 GMT

Thank you for your interest in our study and for your constructive comment. We regret that we missed your paper as it would have been very appropriate to cite it. The hypothesis you put forward is certainly elegant and surely merits to be tested. We were indeed thinking that as is observed in sheep and mice for beta- and gamma-retroviruses respectively, some fragments of pSIV may have been co-opted in lemurs to restrict exogenous lentiviruses and/or other retroviruses at some point during the evolution of these lemur species. As we point out in the paper, it will be interesting to screen for the presence of lentiviruses circulating today in lemurs.

Clement Gilbert

No competing interests declared.