Verhandelingen - Koninklijke Academie voor Geneeskunde van België vol:61 issue:1 pages:39-63
During our studies on the evolution of the PTLVs, we have isolated and genomically characterized two divergent simian T-lymphotropic viruses, not belonging to the previously well-established PTLV lineages. STLV-PH969 has been isolated from an Eritrean sacred baboon (Papio hamadryas), with an HTLV-like indeterminate serological profile. The entire 8916 nt long genomic sequence, was obtained from a cDNA library of PH969 mRNA, in combination with a PCR based strategy. All open reading frames (ORF) common to all HTLV related viruses could be identified without important deletions or insertions. Sequence comparison of the STLV-PH969 genomic sequence with the HTLV-I and -II prototype sequences revealed that this virus is equidistantly related to HTLV-I and -II. A phylogenetic analysis on the envelope and regulatory Tax proteins conclusively proved the ancient separation of HTLV-I, -II and STLV-PH969. Together these data provided enough evidence to justify the classification of this virus as a new type of primate T-lymphotropic virus, designated PTLV-L. We isolated a second highly divergent virus from pygmy chimpanzees (bonobo's, Pan paniscus) housed in the Antwerp Zoo. The animals infected with this virus showed an aberrant HTLV-I like serological profile. The entire 8855 nt long genomic sequence of the STLV-PP1664 provirus was obtained by sequencing of overlapping PCR fragments. On this sequence, all ORFs common to all HTLV related viruses could be identified without any important deletions or insertions. Sequence comparison showed that the STLV-PP1664 proviral sequence was related to HTLV-II and the virus is called STLV-II. However, in all genomic regions, STLV-IIPP1664 was much more divergent from any of the HTLV-II subtypes than these are from each other. In order to further investigate the genomic relationship of STLV-LPH969 and STLV-IIPP1664 with HTLV-I and -II, we also analyzed the genomic organization of the pX region, which differs between HTLV-I and HTLV-II. In the STLV-LPH969 and STLV-IIPP1664 producing cell lines, 2 and 5 viral messengers could be detected respectively, potentially expressing 3 and 5 different accessory proteins respectively. The splicing pattern and the resulting proteins differ from those of HTLV-I and HTLV-II. In the light of the growing interest for xenotransplantation, the prevalence of distinct PTLVs in the wild and their capacity to cross the species barrier deserves further attention.