Absence of accessory genes in a divergent simian T-lymphotropic virus type 1 isolated from a bonnet macaque (<i>Macaca radiata</i>)

by Philippe V. Afonso, Zahra Fagrouch, Martin Deijs, Henk Niphuis, Willy Bogers, Antoine Gessain, Lia van der Hoek, Ernst J. Verschoor

Background

Primate T-lymphotropic viruses type 1 (PTLV-1) are complex retroviruses infecting both human (HTLV-1) and simian (STLV-1) hosts. They share common epidemiological, clinical and molecular features. In addition to the canonical gag, pol, env retroviral genes, PTLV-1 purportedly encodes regulatory (i.e. Tax, Rex, and HBZ) and accessory proteins (i.e. P12/8, P13, P30). The latter have been found essential for viral persistence in vivo.

Methodology/Principal findings

We have isolated a STLV-1 virus from a bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata–Mra18C9), a monkey from India. The complete sequence was obtained and phylogenetic analyses were performed. The Mra18C9 strain is highly divergent from the known PTLV-1 strains. Intriguingly, the Mra18C9 lacks the 3 accessory open reading frames. In order to determine if the absence of accessory proteins is specific to this particular strain, a comprehensive analysis of the complete PTLV-1 genomes available in Genbank was performed and found that the lack of one or many accessory ORF is common among PTLV-1.

Conclusion

This study raises many questions regarding the actual nature, role and importance of accessory proteins in the PTLV-1 biology.

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