HIV-1 arose as the result of spillover of simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) from great apes in Africa, namely from chimpanzees and gorillas. Chimpanzees and gorillas were, themselves, infected with SIV after virus spillover from African monkeys. During spillover events, SIV is thought to require adaptation to the new host species. The host barriers that drive viral adaptation have predominantly been attributed to restriction factors, rather than cofactors (host proteins exploited to promote viral replication). Here, we consider the role of one cofactor, RanBP2, in providing a barrier that drove viral genome evolution during SIV spillover events. RanBP2 (also known as Nup358) is a component of the nuclear pore complex known to facilitate nuclear entry of HIV-1. Our data suggest that transmission of SIV from monkeys to chimpanzees, and then from chimpanzees to gorillas, both coincided with changes in the viral capsid that allowed interaction with RanBP2 of the new host species. However, human RanBP2 subsequently provided no barrier to the zoonotic transmission of SIV from chimpanzees or gorillas, indicating that chimpanzee- and gorilla-adapted SIVs are pre-adapted to humans in this regard. Our observations are in agreement with RanBP2 driving virus evolution during cross-species transmissions of SIV, particularly in the transmissions to and between great ape species.
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