Why humans are more sensitive to certain viruses: Primate immune system differences identified

Dec 16, 2010

The greater susceptibility of humans to certain infectious diseases when compared to other primates could be explained by species-specific changes in immune signaling pathways, a University of Chicago study finds. The first genome-wide, functional comparison of genes regulated by the innate immune system in three primate species discovers potential mediators of differences in disease susceptibility among primates. These findings are published on December 16 in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics.

Humans are more sensitive than chimpanzees to the severe effects of certain viral infections, such as progression of HIV to AIDS or severe complications from . Genomic comparisons of humans and their close primate relatives reveal many changes in immune system genes. By stimulating from humans, chimpanzees and rhesus macaques, Luis Barreiro and colleagues tested functional differences in primate immune pathways.

The "core" response, critical to fight any invading pathogen, was found to be evolutionarily conserved, with similar gene expression patterns across all three species. However, the regulatory response associated with genes involved in fighting certain viral and microbial infections produced unique effects in each species, probably reflecting rapid adaptation cycles between specific hosts and viruses. Interestingly, many HIV-interacting genes responded uniquely in chimpanzees, animals which do not routinely develop AIDS after HIV/SIV infection, possibly pointing to mechanisms of chimpanzee resistance to the virus. In humans, immune responses were particularly enriched for genes known to be involved in cell death (apoptosis) and cancer biology.

Though detailed species-specific gene expression patterns were identified in this study, more experiments will be required to assess the phenotypic impact of those unique immune responses. Future studies will also test the immune response of each species to specific infectious agents. According to the authors, the present findings are "only the first step in characterizing inter-species differences in ."

Explore further: Bioethicists use theatrical narratives to bridge the gap between society and science

More information: Barreiro LB, Marioni JC, Blekhman R, Stephens M, Gilad Y (2010) Functional Comparison of Innate Immune Signaling Pathways in Primates. PLoS Genet 6(12): e1001249. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001249

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Most complete primate gene study reported

Jul 31, 2007

U.S. scientists have completed what's believed the most comprehensive assessment of gene copy number variations across human and non-human primate species.

Why Some Monkeys Don't Get AIDS

Dec 03, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Two studies published this month in the Journal of Clinical Investigation provide a significant advance in understanding how some species of monkeys such as sooty mangabeys and African green ...

AIDS resistance secret may be in blood

Feb 12, 2007

U.S. scientists say the absence of a specific marker in the blood and tissues of certain monkeys might be part of the key to understanding AIDS resistance.

Recommended for you

Classifying sequence variants in human disease

17 hours ago

Sequencing an entire human genome is faster and cheaper than ever before, leading to an explosion of studies comparing the genomes of people with and without a given disease. Often clinicians and researchers studying genetic ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HenisDov
1 / 5 (4) Dec 21, 2010
On Sick Apes And Humans

A. "Functional Comparison of Innate Immune Signaling Pathways in Primates" L. B. Barreiro et al.,
http://www.plosge....1001249

"Sick Apes"
http://blog.the-s...ck-apes/

B. Diverse evolution pathways drove the RNAs to drive functional differences

"Seed of Human-Chimp Genomes Diversity"
http://pulse.yaho...es/53079

"Genomics goes beyond DNA sequence", comment
http://www.nature.../465145a

Dov Henis
(Comments From The 22nd Century)

More news stories

FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

The federal government wants to prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Rising role seen for health education specialists

(HealthDay)—A health education specialist can help family practices implement quality improvement projects with limited additional financial resources, according to an article published in the March/April ...

When things get glassy, molecules go fractal

Colorful church windows, beads on a necklace and many of our favorite plastics share something in common—they all belong to a state of matter known as glasses. School children learn the difference between ...

FCC to propose pay-for-priority Internet standards

The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.

SK Hynix posts Q1 surge in net profit

South Korea's SK Hynix Inc said Thursday its first-quarter net profit surged nearly 350 percent from the previous year on a spike in sales of PC memory chips.