Recurrent Loss of APOBEC3H Activity during Primate Evolution.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of virology (2018)


Genomics Core Facility


Genes in the family encode cytidine deaminases that provide a barrier against viral infection and retrotransposition. Of all genes in humans, () is the most polymorphic: some haplotypes encode stable and active A3H proteins, while others are unstable and poorly antiviral. Such variation in human A3H affects interactions with the lentiviral antagonist Vif, which counteracts A3H via proteasomal degradation. In order to broaden our understanding of A3H-Vif interactions, as well as its evolution in Old World monkeys, we characterized A3H variation within four African green monkey (AGM) subspecies. We found that A3H is highly polymorphic in AGMs and has lost antiviral activity in multiple Old World monkeys. This loss of function was partially related to protein expression levels but was also influenced by amino acid mutations in the N-terminus. Moreover, we demonstrate that the evolution of A3H in the primate lineages leading to AGMs was not driven by Vif. Our work suggests that activity of A3H is evolutionarily dynamic and may have a negative effect on host fitness, resulting in its recurrent loss in primates. Adaptation of viruses to their hosts is critical for transmission of viruses between different species. Previous studies had identified changes in a protein from the APOBEC3 family that influenced species-specificity of simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) in African green monkeys. We studied the evolution of a related protein in the same system, APOBEC3H, which has experienced a loss of function in humans. This evolutionary approach revealed that recurrent loss of APOBEC3H activity has taken place during primate evolution suggesting that APOBEC3H places a fitness cost on hosts. The variability of APOBEC3H activity between different primates highlights the differential selective pressures on the gene family.