Virus Mind Control, Revisited

Though HIV-1 is the retrovirus that gets all the press these days, it was not the first human retrovirus discovered. The ‘first’ human retrovirus was discovered in 1980— Human T-lymphotropic virus, HTLV.

HTLV has a couple of things in common with HIV-1– Though it is not a lentivirus, it is still ‘complex’, meaning it has gag, pol, env and a couple accessory genes. And it likes to infect activated CD4+ T-cells like HIV-1.

But there is an interesting difference– You cant take a bunch of HTLV viruses, throw them on CD4+ T cells, and infect the cells. That is, ‘free’ virus is relatively non-infectious. To contrast that with HIV-1, I have to be careful to not accidentally put too much virus on my CD4+ T cells, or else Ill come back in 24 hours and all my cells will be infected and dead.

How the hell can a virus not infect the cell it infects? What??

The answer is, of course, mind control.

Remember when I last talked about virus motility?

To use HIV-1 as an example, HIV-1 doesnt just hang out in your vagina waiting for a CD4+ T-cell to wander by (which is good, cause thats not going to happen). Vaginas have sentinal dendritic cells that pick up HIV-1 viruses (like a friggen chauffeur) and carry them to lymph nodes. Lymph nodes full of nommy, nommy CD4+ T-cells.

Turns out thats another thing HIV-1 and HTLV have in common! They need dendritic cells to shuttle them around. But HTLV takes it to an extreme– the viruses cant infect CD4+ T cells on their own. They must be picked up by a dendritic cell and presented to a CD4+ T cell via cell-cell contact to infect their target cell. After that CD4+ T cell is infected, it can go on to infect other CD4+ T cells (again, through cell-cell contact, not free virus).

HTLV also causes immunosuppression, like HIV-1, but its not through slaughtering all your CD4+ T cells! HTLV use a different mind control trick to force the infected cell to produce too many cytokines, preventing the production of antibodies, meaning bacterial/fungal/parasitic infections can take you down.

There is a lesson to be learned from HTLV.

You dont need a million genes in a huge genome with epigenetics and siRNA and lots of crazy stuff to accomplish a lot.

All you really need is mind control.


  1. #1 CanuckRob
    September 17, 2008

    So what do the dendritic cells “think” they are doing when they transport the virus? Is this a normal behaviour/reaction of these cells to something else that the virus just takes over or is it a thing that only happens with these viruses?

  2. #2 Ernie
    September 17, 2008

    I’m so glad I drunkenly stumbled upon this blog a few months back lol (literally) haha

    Scintillatingly interesting stuff, thanks ERV ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. #3 Optimus Primate
    September 17, 2008

    Spooky stuffs.

  4. #4 ERV
    September 17, 2008

    CanuckRob– DCs bringing the CD4+ T cells viruses is like a proud puppy bringing its owner a squirrel it caught. Puppies always bring their owners dead birds/bunnies/possums, its just that this time, the squirrel is infected with rabies, it bites the owner, and the owner dies ๐Ÿ™‚

    DCs normally bring viruses they ‘catch’ to T cells to kick off the adaptive immune response… its just that with HTLV, the DCs arent just carrying the virus. They get infected, make more viruses, and infect the main HTLV target, CD4+ T cells.

  5. #5 Yoo
    September 17, 2008

    The infection pathway for HTLV seems to be too intricate for it to be from anything except intelligent design! (Seriously, the evolutionary history of the virus must be fascinating to end up with the infection pathway it has.)

    Although I thought you were going to talk about something like David Brin’s short story The Giving Plaque at the mention of virus mind control. ^_^;;

  6. #6 Sili
    September 17, 2008

    At this rate you’ll make me paranoid enough to go buy a bubble to live in …

    Thank you …

    Nature is scary.

  7. #7 Jared
    September 17, 2008

    So, does this mean religion is more like a virus than we thought previously? Viruses can act by mind control, religion exclusively does.

  8. #8 thingsbreak
    September 17, 2008

    Rather than a vax, clearly the solution is to fight fire with fire:

    *small wave of the hand*
    These aren’t the vaginal DC’s you’re looking for.

  9. #9 Brandonazz
    September 17, 2008

    I love how such complex biological processes can be put in such simple and amusing anecdotes as dog and its owner. It really kicks up our understanding a notch.


  10. #10 Savely Savva
    September 17, 2008

    Nothing will be understood till the general epigenetic (biofield) control system of the organism becomes the focus of attention. See BOOK page.

  11. #11 Paul Lundgren
    September 17, 2008

    Seven comments in, and we already have a comment about religion as a virus (I agree with that point). Let mine be the first to do the same for Republicans.

    In a sorta awkward segue…

    I just posted this on Pharyngula, and it’s off-topic, but we need to spread this FAR AND WIDE. You know, like a virus ๐Ÿ™‚

    (And yeah, I’m kinda prostituting my site for traffic).



    There’s video footage.

  12. #12 William Wallace
    September 17, 2008

    Mind control. Okay.

  13. #13 Jared
    September 18, 2008

    Mr. WW, again I see you skeptical about science, so I’ll put a bit more out for you, parasites and viruses can both alter the behavior of humans and animals.
    Also, rabies increases saliva production (where it is found in abundant quantities) and increases aggression (leading to biting in most animals).
    If only not believing in something made it not exist or if believing in something made it exist, how wonderful the world might be (for he or she whose beliefs become reality).

    Also, Abbie, your Savely Savva Spammer is back.

  14. #14 Lab Rat
    September 18, 2008

    Post no. one: “So what do the dendritic cells “think” they are doing when they transport the virus? Is this a normal behaviour/reaction of these cells to something else that the virus just takes over or is it a thing that only happens with these viruses?”

    As far as I can understand it (and do please anyone correct me cuz its been a while and I may be all wrong) the whole job of dendritic cells is to pick up bits of floating virus (and sometimes bacteria) and then ‘present’ them to CD4+ T4 cells. This allows the T4 cell to formulate an immune response to remove the virus. However in this case, the bit of virus actually infects the T4 cell (I am not sure why).

    It’s like usually the dendritic cell is someone who picks up war shrapnel and shows it to the expert (T4 helper: CD4+) who works out what it is and what to do about it. Except with the HTLV etc, clearly the dendritic cell is bringing back a live grenade…

    (again this is not my area of expertise so anything anyone can add would be great)

  15. #15 Lab Rat
    September 30, 2008

    I’ve picked up your spammer! Savely savva is now book promoting on my page as well ๐Ÿ™‚ heh.

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