Genome-Wide Patterns of Gene Expression in a Wild Primate Indicate Species-Specific Mechanisms Associated with Tolerance to Natural Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Infection

Genome Biol Evol. 2019 Jun 1;11(6):1630-1643. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evz099.


Over 40 species of nonhuman primates host simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs). In natural hosts, infection is generally assumed to be nonpathogenic due to a long coevolutionary history between host and virus, although pathogenicity is difficult to study in wild nonhuman primates. We used whole-blood RNA-seq and SIV prevalence from 29 wild Ugandan red colobus (Piliocolobus tephrosceles) to assess the effects of SIV infection on host gene expression in wild, naturally SIV-infected primates. We found no evidence for chronic immune activation in infected individuals, suggesting that SIV is not immunocompromising in this species, in contrast to human immunodeficiency virus in humans. Notably, an immunosuppressive gene, CD101, was upregulated in infected individuals. This gene has not been previously described in the context of nonpathogenic SIV infection. This expands the known variation associated with SIV infection in natural hosts and may suggest a novel mechanism for tolerance of SIV infection in the Ugandan red colobus.

Keywords: CD101; gene expression; red colobus; simian immunodeficiency virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Male
  • Primates / classification*
  • Primates / genetics*
  • Primates / immunology
  • Primates / virology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / virology
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Up-Regulation
  • Viral Load