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Nature. 1989 Jun 1;339(6223):389-92.

An African primate lentivirus (SIVsm) closely related to HIV-2.

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Department of Microbiology, Georgetown University, NIH/Twinbrook II, Rockville, Maryland 20852.


The ancestors of the human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV-1 and HIV-2) may have evolved from a reservoir of African nonhuman primate lentiviruses, termed simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIV). None of the SIV strains characterized so far are closely related to HIV-1. HIV-2, however, is closely related to SIV (SIVmac) isolated from captive rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). SIV infection of feral Asian macaques has not been demonstrated by serological surveys. Thus, macaques may have acquired SIV in captivity by cross-species transmission from an SIV-infected African primate. Sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys), an African primate species indigenous to West Africa, however, are infected with SIV (SIVsm) both in captivity and in the wild (P. Fultz, personal communication). We have molecularly cloned and sequenced SIVsm and report here that it is closely related to SIVmac and HIV-2. These results suggest that SIVsm has infected macaques in captivity and humans in West Africa and evolved as SIVmac and HIV-2, respectively.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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