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J Virol. 2013 Dec;87(24):13628-39. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01989-13. Epub 2013 Oct 9.

Simian foamy virus infection of rhesus macaques in Bangladesh: relationship of latent proviruses and transcriptionally active viruses.

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Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA.


Simian foamy viruses (SFV) are complex retroviruses that are ubiquitous in nonhuman primates (NHP) and are zoonotically transmitted to humans, presumably through NHP saliva, by licking, biting, and other behaviors. We have studied SFV in free-ranging rhesus macaques in Bangladesh. It has been previously shown that SFV in immunocompetent animals replicates to detectable levels only in superficial epithelial cells of the oral mucosa, although latent proviruses are found in most, if not all, tissues. In this study, we compare DNA sequences from latent SFV proviruses found in blood cells of 30 Bangladesh rhesus macaques to RNA sequences of transcriptionally active SFV from buccal swabs obtained from the same animals. Viral strains, defined by differences in SFV gag sequences, from buccal mucosal specimens overlapped with those from blood samples in 90% of animals. Thus, latent proviruses in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) are, to a great extent, representative of viruses likely to be transmitted to other hosts. The level of SFV RNA in buccal swabs varied greatly between macaques, with increasing amounts of viral RNA in older animals. Evidence of APOBEC3-induced mutations was found in gag sequences derived from the blood and oral mucosa.

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