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Isolation of an HTLV-III-related retrovirus from macaques with simian AIDS and its possible origin in asymptomatic mangabeys

Naturevolume 321pages435437 (1986) | Download Citation



Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) has become a worldwide epidemic1–6, so the development of vaccines and antiviral agents effective against the causative agent, human T-lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III), is vital. This work would be greatly simplified if a suitable animal model could be developed. Here we report the isolation of an HTLV-III-related retrovirus, STLV-III/Delta, from rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) with transmissible simian AIDS (SAIDS) and from asymptomatic sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys). SAIDS was initially diagnosed in several macaques previously inoculated with tissue homogenates of mangabey origin. Western blot analysis of both the mangabey and macaque sera demonstrated the presence of antibody cross-reactive primarily with the HTLV-III proteins p24 and p61. In a related experiment, analysis of these same sera revealed simian antibody to STLV-III/Delta proteins similar, but not identical, to those of HTLV-III with estimated relative molecular masses (Mrs) of 16,000 (16K), 26K, 35K, 45K, 60K and 110K. Infection of the mangabey, an African primate, with an HTLV-III-related virus may provide a clue to the origin of HTLV-III in humans. The apparent difference in susceptibility to SAIDS-like disease between infected macaques and mangabeys suggests that these species may respond differently to STLV-III infection.

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  1. Delta Regional Primate Research Center of Tulane University, Covington, Louisiana, 70433, USA

    • Michael Murphey-Corb
    • , Louis N. Martin
    • , S. R. S. Rangan
    • , Gary B. Baskin
    • , Bobby J. Gormus
    •  & Robert H. Wolf
  2. Department of Medicine, Tulane University Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70118, USA

    • W. Abe Andes
  3. Department of Biochemistry, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70803, USA

    • Melanie West
    •  & Ronald C. Montelaro


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