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Virology. 2018 Mar;516:158-164. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2017.12.035.

Spumaretroviruses: Updated taxonomy and nomenclature.

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Laboratory of Retroviruses, US Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, MD 20993, USA. Electronic address:
Institut für Virologie und Immunbiologie, Universität Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.
Unit of Epidemiology and Physiopathology of Oncogenic Viruses, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France; Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS UMR3569, Paris, France.
Biology Department, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA.
Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.
Department of Biochemistry, National Veterinary Research Institute, Puławy, Poland.
Institute of Virology, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.
Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.
Research Program Infection, Inflammation and Cancer, German Cancer Research Center (DFKZ), Heidelberg, Germany.
Instituto Nacional de Câncer and Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Laboratory Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.


Spumaretroviruses, commonly referred to as foamy viruses, are complex retroviruses belonging to the subfamily Spumaretrovirinae, family Retroviridae, which naturally infect a variety of animals including nonhuman primates (NHPs). Additionally, cross-species transmissions of simian foamy viruses (SFVs) to humans have occurred following exposure to tissues of infected NHPs. Recent research has led to the identification of previously unknown exogenous foamy viruses, and to the discovery of endogenous spumaretrovirus sequences in a variety of host genomes. Here, we describe an updated spumaretrovirus taxonomy that has been recently accepted by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) Executive Committee, and describe a virus nomenclature that is generally consistent with that used for other retroviruses, such as lentiviruses and deltaretroviruses. This taxonomy can be applied to distinguish different, but closely related, primate (e.g., human, ape, simian) foamy viruses as well as those from other hosts. This proposal accounts for host-virus co-speciation and cross-species transmission.


Foamy virus; ICTV; International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses; Retrovirus; Spumaretrovirinae; Spumaretrovirus; Spumavirus; Virus classification; Virus nomenclature; Virus taxonomy; Zoonosis

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