African Genomes Could Aid HIV Infections


The findings suggest that CHD1L’s could provide treatment opportunities for individuals infected with HIV-1.

New study findings have identified a human genetic variation associated with the natural control of HIV that is found only in the genome of some populations of African ancestries.

Dna helix enlarged model in bright colors and spots, Generative AI | Image credit: Radomir Jovanovic -

Dna helix | Image credit: Radomir Jovanovic -

The research involved nearly 4000 individuals of African descent. Through the investigation, the researchers were able to identify that the gene can replicate specific white blood cells that offer protection against HIV.

"We used a combination of computational and experimental approaches to explore the biological mechanism behind the genetic association and provide evidence that the gene CHD1L acts to limit HIV replication in a subset of white blood cells," said Jacques Fellay, MD, a professor from the Evole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne’s School of Life Sciences.

Extensive antiretroviral therapies have been developed to help reduce infection rates of HIV. However, the study authors noted that the infection rate is currently increasing in particular regions.

To create the studies, the researchers outlined the relationship between the human genome and the progression of HIV to discover targets and identify naturally controlled viral replication.

According to the study, setpoint viral load (spVL) is used to find the degree of viral infection. The spVL is the stable level of HIV replication in the body of untreated individuals and varies in an infected population based on individuals’ immune systems when not being treated with medication.

Due to the lack of human genomic studies conducted in Africa, the researchers performed a large-scale Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) of African ancestries.

“In total, the scientists analyzed the genomes from 3879 individuals living with HIV-1. Using computational analysis and fine-mapping techniques, they identified a novel region in the genome that shows a strong association with spVL control,” said the study authors.

The results found a gene called Chromodomain Helicase DNA Binding Protein 1 Like (CHD1L) that allows damaged DNA to be repaired. However, the researchers found that CHD1L was related to control of HIV-1.

“Our findings provide insights into potential therapeutic targets, which are needed to continue the fight against HIV-1. In addition, our results underscore the importance of performing genomic studies in diverse ancestral populations to better address their specific medical needs and global health inequities,” said Fellay in the press release.

The findings suggest that CHD1L could provide treatment opportunities for individuals infected with HIV-1.


Learning how to control HIV from African genomes. Science Daily. News release. August 2, 2023. Accessed August 4, 2023.

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