Convergent evolution of a gene that blocks HIV in monkeys

Here we have yet another example of evolution cobbling together new proteins from existing structures. And what do you know, it kinda matters:

The TRIM5-CypA gene found in Asian macaques is a hybrid of two existing proteins, TRIM5 and CypA. This combination creates a single protein that blocks infections by lentiviruses.
This is the second time a TRIM5-CypA hybrid gene has been identified in monkeys. The other one — TRIMCyp — was found in South American owl monkeys in 2004. But it’s not likely that these two gene combinations arose from a single common ancestor, the Harvard researchers said.

Didn’t arise from a single common ancestor? But how can we know that? Only if the gene isn’t present in other Old World monkeys or other New World monkeys.

TRIM5-CypA wasn’t found in monkey closely related to the Asian macaques and TRIMCyp wasn’t found in any other South American primate species. This suggests that the two combination genes evolved separately, once in the macaques and once in the owl monkeys.

That’s pretty telling. These two populations of primate are separated by many millions of years of evolutionary processes. Likely this mutation is fixed in both species because it provides some sort of evolutionary advantage outside of HIV infections. It will be interesting to see what that might advantage might be.
I’d like to see the full paper, but PLoS Pathology is down for maintenance right now. Oh well. In the meantime, we’ll all just reflect on how useless Intelligent Design is.

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