Molecular phylogeny and dissemination of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I viewed within the context of primate evolution and human migration.

R. Yanagihara, N. Saitou, V. R. Nerurkar, Ki-Joon Song, I. Bastian, G. Franchini, D. C. Gajdusek

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A renewed interest in the emergence and evolution of the primate T-cell lymphotropic viruses has followed the discovery of genetically distinct variants of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) in Melanesia and Australia. Phylogenetic trees based on selected regions of the gag, pol, env and pX genes of HTLV-I from widely separated geographic regions and of simian T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (STLV-I) from African and Asian catarrhines, constructed using the neighbor-joining and maximum parsimony methods, indicated that the Australo-Melanesian and cosmopolitan strains of HTLV-I have evolved along separate geographically dependent lineages, with African STLV-I strains clustering with cosmopolitan HTLV-I strains and Asian STLV-I strains diverging from the common ancestral virus before the Australo-Melanesian HTLV-I strains. When viewed within the context of non-human primate evolution and human occupation of Australia and Melanesia, the rate of molecular change of HTLV-I and STLV-I is approximately 2.5-6.8 x 10(-7) substitutions per site per year. Overall, the sequence and phylogenetic analyses are in accord with interspecies virus transmission among non-human primates, as well as between non-human primates and humans, with independent evolution of HTLV-I in Southeast Asia and in Africa, and with dissemination of HTLV-I by forced or voluntary movements of human populations. The immunosuppressive and T-cell activation properties of HTLV-I places at added risk these Australian Aboriginal and Melanesian populations, some of which are in imminent threat of infection with human immunodeficiency virus type 1.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCellular and molecular biology (Noisy-le-Grand, France)
Volume41 Suppl 1
Publication statusPublished - 1995 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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