Phylogenetic associations of human and simian T-cell leukemia/lymphotropic virus type I strains: Evidence for interspecies transmission

Igor J. Koralnik, Enzo Boeri, W. Carl Saxinger, Anita Lo Monico, Jake Fullen, Antoine Gessain, Hong Guang Guo, Robert C. Gallo, Phillip Markham, Vaniambadi Kalyanaraman, Vanessa Hirsch, Jonathan Allan, Krishna Murthy, Patricia Alford, Jill Pecon Slattery, Stephen J. O'Brien, Genoveffa Franchini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


Homologous env sequences from 17 human T-leukemia/lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) strains from throughout the world and from 25 simian T- leukemia/lymphotropic virus type I (STLV-I) strains from 12 simian species in Asia and Africa were analyzed in a phylogenetic context as an approach to resolving the natural history of these related retroviruses. STLV-I exhibited greater overall sequence variation between strains (1 to 18% compared with 0 to 9% for HTLV-I), supporting the simian origin of the modern viruses in all species. Three HTLV-I phylogenetic clusters or clades (cosmopolitan, Zaire, and Melanesia) were resolved with phenetic, parsimony, and likelihood analytical procedures. Seven phylogenetic clusters of STLV-I were resolved with the most primitive (deeply rooted) divergence involving several STLV-I strains from Asian primate species. Combined analysis of HTLV-I and STLV-I revealed that neither STLV-I clusters nor HTLV-I clusters recapitulated host species specificity; rather, multiple clades from the same species were closer to clades from other species than to each other. We interpret these evolutionary associations as support for the occurrence of multiple discrete interspecies transmissions of ancestral viruses between primate species (including human) that led to recognizable phylogenetic clades that persist in modern species. Geographic concordance of divergent host species that harbor closely related viruses reinforces that physical feasibility for hypothesized interspecies virus transmission in the past and in the present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2693-2707
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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