STLV-1 co-infection is correlated with an increased SFV proviral load in the peripheral blood of SFV/STLV-1 naturally infected non-human primates

by Sandrine Alais, Amandine Pasquier, Brice Jegado, Chloé Journo, Réjane Rua, Antoine Gessain, Joelle Tobaly-Tapiero, Romain Lacoste, Jocelyn Turpin, Renaud Mahieux

Simian T-Leukemia Virus type 1 and Simian Foamy Virus infect non-human primates. While STLV-1, as HTLV-1, causes Adult T-cell Leukemia/lymphoma, SFV infection is asymptomatic. Both retroviruses can be transmitted from NHPs to humans through bites that allow contact between infected saliva and recipient blood. Because both viruses infect CD4+ T-cells, they might interfere with each other replication, and this might impact viral transmission. Impact of STLV-1 co-infection on SFV replication was analyzed in 18 SFV-positive/STLV-1-negative and 18 naturally SFV/STLV-1 co-infected Papio anubis. Even if 9 animals were found STLV-1-positive in saliva, STLV-1 PVL was much higher in the blood. SFV proviruses were detected in the saliva of all animals. Interestingly, SFV proviral load was much higher in the blood of STLV-1/SFV co-infected animals, compared to STLV-1-negative animals. Given that soluble Tax protein can enter uninfected cells, we tested its effect on foamy virus promoter and we show that Tax protein can transactivate the foamy LTR. This demonstrates that true STLV-1 co-infection or Tax only has an impact on SFV replication and may influence the ability of the virus to be zoonotically transmitted as well as its ability to promote hematological abnormalities.

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