'Missing link' found in HIV's evolution

04 December 2008

James Martin Fellow Aris Katzourakis contributes to important findings on the way viruses evolve and transmit infection. His paper, co-authored with researchers from Oxford, Stanford and Imperial College, reports the discovery and analysis of a new member of the primate lentivirus group, the group of viruses that includes HIV and its counterparts in other primates, the SIVs (simian retroviruses). This virus has been identified in the grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus), a Madagascan primate that has evolved in isolation from the African primates in which all other known SIVs are found, shedding new light on the evolution of the primate lentiviruses.

Dr Aris Katzourakis and Dr Oliver Pybus of the Department of Zoology led the research at Oxford alongside researchers from Imperial College London and Stanford University, California. Dr Katzourakis was supported by a James Martin Fellowship from the James Martin 21st Century School.

The paper, entitled "A transitional endogenous lentivirus from a basal primate and implications for lentivirus evolution" is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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