Journal of virology 2016 08 2690(18) 8085-9 doi 10.1128/JVI.00972-16
Molecular evolutionary arms races between viruses and their hosts are important drivers of adaptation. These Red Queen dynamics have been frequently observed in primate retroviruses and their antagonists, host restriction factor genes, such as APOBEC3F/G, TRIM5-α, SAMHD1, and BST-2. Host restriction factors have experienced some of the most intense and pervasive adaptive evolution documented in primates. Recently, two novel host factors, SERINC3 and SERINC5, were identified as the targets of HIV-1 Nef, a protein crucial for the optimal infectivity of virus particles. Here, we compared the evolutionary fingerprints of SERINC3 and SERINC5 to those of other primate restriction factors and to a set of other genes with diverse functions. SERINC genes evolved in a manner distinct from the canonical arms race dynamics seen in the other restriction factors. Despite their antiviral activity against HIV-1 and other retroviruses, SERINC3 and SERINC5 have a relatively uneventful evolutionary history in primates.
Restriction factors are host proteins that block viral infection and replication. Many viruses, like HIV-1 and related retroviruses, evolved accessory proteins to counteract these restriction factors. The importance of these interactions is evidenced by the intense adaptive selection pressures that dominate the evolutionary histories of both the host and viral genes involved in this so-called arms race. The dynamics of these arms races can point to mechanisms by which these viral infections can be prevented. Two human genes, SERINC3 and SERINC5, were recently identified as targets of an HIV-1 accessory protein important for viral infectivity. Unexpectedly, we found that these SERINC genes, unlike other host restriction factor genes, show no evidence of a recent evolutionary arms race with viral pathogens.