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J Virol. 2009 Nov;83(21):11318-29. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02616-08. Epub 2009 Aug 19.

Coinfection of Ugandan red colobus (Procolobus [Piliocolobus] rufomitratus tephrosceles) with novel, divergent delta-, lenti-, and spumaretroviruses.

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Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Nonhuman primates host a plethora of potentially zoonotic microbes, with simian retroviruses receiving heightened attention due to their roles in the origins of human immunodeficiency viruses type 1 (HIV-1) and HIV-2. However, incomplete taxonomic and geographic sampling of potential hosts, especially the African colobines, has left the full range of primate retrovirus diversity unexplored. Blood samples collected from 31 wild-living red colobus monkeys (Procolobus [Piliocolobus] rufomitratus tephrosceles) from Kibale National Park, Uganda, were tested for antibodies to simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), simian T-cell lymphotrophic virus (STLV), and simian foamy virus (SFV) and for nucleic acids of these same viruses using genus-specific PCRs. Of 31 red colobus tested, 22.6% were seroreactive to SIV, 6.4% were seroreactive to STLV, and 97% were seroreactive to SFV. Phylogenetic analyses of SIV polymerase (pol), STLV tax and long terminal repeat (LTR), and SFV pol and LTR sequences revealed unique SIV and SFV strains and a novel STLV lineage, each divergent from corresponding retroviral lineages previously described in Western red colobus (Procolobus badius badius) or black-and-white colobus (Colobus guereza). Phylogenetic analyses of host mitochondrial DNA sequences revealed that red colobus populations in East and West Africa diverged from one another approximately 4.25 million years ago. These results indicate that geographic subdivisions within the red colobus taxonomic complex exert a strong influence on retroviral phylogeny and that studying retroviral diversity in closely related primate taxa should be particularly informative for understanding host-virus coevolution.

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