African blue line jellyfish (ABL) flies, one of the most cryptic organisms in the ocean, is commonly used to study viruses of the human cervix. Using ABL virus as a model, a research group led by Professor Christian Handske from the BioSPACE laboratory of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology CDU PhD, has managed to induce biological responses to HIV, an infection which is transmitted during sex. The findings from this study are published in Scientific Reports.
Most human infections with HIV are classified by the use of sex as a common platform to spread the infection between infected individuals. However, there is conflicting information regarding the biological responses induced by sex. New knowledge can therefore assist with understanding how the virus induces such responses, as well as informing on how to minimize the detrimental effects of the virus on the human innate immune system.
ABL is a study model for HIV infection.
ABL are obligated parasites that live immediately after they are exposed to blood, semen or vaginal fluids of humans and non-human mammals. They can infect many animals, and their studies in the laboratory have often shed light on the mechanisms of infection. Current observations show that the virus may be transmitted between males and females through blood, skin orifices, anal or vaginal penetration, and through intracytoplasmic sperm injection. However, since ABL show little virus genome diversity compared to other sexually specific or species, it is missing its full effect on the innate immune system.
HIV infection induced by ABL.
A major challenge facing HIV infection treatment centers is the fact that many ABL have evolved to infect male animals and female mammals instead of female humans. To come up with a model where ABL display a complete lack of genome diversity, the researchers allowed this transmissibility under certain conditions to ABL fly (ABL tapeworm) flies, which are a sexually dimorphic, parasitic challenge.
The experimental works were conducted together with colleagues from the Netherlands, England, Germany, Switzerland and Australia.
“Since ABL is genetically and structurally different from other ABL, we have differentiated our model only for ABL definition, so we were also able to compare ABL-like parasites with their human equivalents