Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you will not see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The antiretroviral protein TRIM5alpha is known to have evolved different restriction capacities against various retroviruses, driven by positive Darwinian selection. However, how these different specificities have evolved in the primate lineages is not fully understood. Here we used ancestral protein resurrection to estimate the evolution of antiviral restriction specificities of TRIM5alpha on the primate lineage leading to humans. We used TRIM5alpha coding sequences from 24 primates for the reconstruction of ancestral TRIM5alpha sequences using maximum-likelihood and Bayesian approaches. Ancestral sequences were transduced into HeLa and CRFK cells. Stable cell lines were generated and used to test restriction of a panel of extant retroviruses (human immunodeficiency virus type 1 [HIV-1] and HIV-2, simian immunodeficiency virus [SIV] variants SIV(mac) and SIV(agm), and murine leukemia virus [MLV] variants N-MLV and B-MLV). The resurrected TRIM5alpha variant from the common ancestor of Old World primates (Old World monkeys and apes, approximately 25 million years before present) was effective against present day HIV-1. In contrast to the HIV-1 restriction pattern, we show that the restriction efficacy against other retroviruses, such as a murine oncoretrovirus (N-MLV), is higher for more recent resurrected hominoid variants. Ancestral TRIM5alpha variants have generally limited efficacy against HIV-2, SIV(agm), and SIV(mac). Our study sheds new light on the evolution of the intrinsic antiviral defense machinery and illustrates the utility of functional evolutionary reconstruction for characterizing recently emerged protein differences.

Original publication




Journal article


J Virol

Publication Date





2089 - 2096


Animals, Evolution, Molecular, HeLa Cells, Humans, Mutagenesis, Site-Directed, Primates, Proteins, Retroviridae