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Virology. 1997 Oct 27;237(2):349-59.

Characterization of new simian foamy viruses from African nonhuman primates.

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Department of Virology and Immunology, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, 7620 N.W. Loop 410 at Military Drive, San Antonio, Texas 78228, USA.


Simian foamy viruses (SFV) are exogenous retroviruses present in most if not all nonhuman primate species. Baboons and other African monkey species are known to harbor SFVs, yet there is presently no data in regard to their genetic relationship. Here we studied SFVs from baboons as compared to other SFVs isolated from a Hamlyn's guenon, a patas monkey, and a vervet. By Western blot analysis, the gag precursor proteins (p74/p70) were detected from all SFVs. In addition, the envelope glycoproteins from a vervet isolate (SFV-Agm2) were comparable in size to the env precursor gp130, the exterior glycoprotein (gp70), and the transmembrane protein (gp48) as detected by lentil lectin binding and radioimmunoprecipitation (RIPA). Molecular comparison of PCR amplified products from pol and LTR regions of each SFV demonstrated a close relationship among baboon SFVs while SFVs from patas, Hamlyn's guenon, and vervet clustered together. The baboon viruses only varied by 4% among each other in the LTR region; however, as much as 26% variation was noted when compared to the other African monkey SFVs. To determine the prevalence rate of SFV-Bab in our baboon colony, we employed both Western blotting and PCR analysis. Antibodies to SFV gag precursor proteins were seen in 7 of 10 infants; however, none were positive by PCR, suggesting that these infants were virus negative and that their antibodies were maternal in origin. Only one juvenile (1/10) and all adults (38/38) were infected with SFV. Taken together these results suggest that SFVs have arisen and diverged along with the evolution of their natural hosts. Furthermore, the high prevalence rates to SFV seen in adult baboons strongly suggest a sexual or oral routes of transmission.

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