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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2000 Jan 20;16(2):139-51.

Near-full-length genome sequencing of divergent African HIV type 1 subtype F viruses leads to the identification of a new HIV type 1 subtype designated K.

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  • 1Laboratoire Rétrovirus, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Montpellier, France.


We recently reported a high divergence among African subtype F strains. Three well-separated groups (F1, F2, and F3) have been shown based on the phylogenetic analysis of the p24 gag and envelope sequences with genetic distances similar to those observed for known subtypes. In this study, we characterized the near-full-length genomes of two strains from epidemiological unlinked individual belonging to each of the subgroups: F1 (96FR-MP411), F2 (95CM-MP255 and 95CM-MP257), and F3 (96CM-MP535 and 97ZR-EQTB11). Phylogenetic analysis of the near-full-length sequences and for each of the genes separately showed the same three groups, supported by high bootstrap values. Diversity plotting, BLAST subtyping, and bootstrap plotting confirmed that the divergent F strains correspond to nonrecombinant viruses. The divergence between F1 and F2 is consistently lower than that seen in any other intersubtype comparison, with the exception of subtypes B and D. Based on all the different analyses, we propose to divide subtype F into two subclades, with F1 gathering the known subtype F strains from Brazil and Finland, and our African strain (96FR-MP411), and F2 containing the 95CM-MP255 and 95CM-MP257 strains from Cameroon. The F3 strains, 97ZR-EQTB11 from the Democratic Republic of Congo and 96CM-MP535 from Cameroon, meet the criteria of a new subtype designated as K. The equidistance of subtype K to the other subtypes of HIV-1 suggests that this subtype existed as long as the others, the lower distance between B and D, and between F1 and F2 suggest a more recent subdivision for these latter strains.

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