Human T cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) infection in India has been found to be associated with adult T cell leukaemia/lymphoma (ATLL) and HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) among life-long residents of southern India. To examine the heterogeneity of HTLV-I strains from southern India and to determine their relationship with the sequence variants of HTLV-I from Melanesia, 1149 nucleotides spanning selected regions of the HTLV-I gag, pol, env and pX genes were amplified and directly sequenced from DNA extracted from whole blood blotted onto filter paper and from peripheral blood mononuclear cells, obtained from one patient with HAM/TSP, two with ATLL and eight asymptomatic carriers from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Sequence alignments and comparisons indicated that the 11 HTLV-I strains from southern India were 99.2% to 100% identical among themselves and 98.7% to 100% identical to the Japanese prototype HTLV-I ATK. The majority of base substitutions were transitions and silent. No frameshifts, insertions, deletions or possibly disease-specific base changes were found in the regions sequenced. The observed clustering of the Indian HTLV-I strains with those from Japan, as determined by the maximum parsimony method, suggested a common source of HTLV-I infection with subsequent parallel evolution. Amplification of DNA from blood specimens collected on filter paper may be useful for the study of other blood-borne pathogens.
ASJC Scopus subject areas