THE ancestors of the human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV-1 and HIV-2) may have evolved from a reservoir of African non-human primate lentiviruses, termed simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIV)1. None of the SIV strains characterized so far are closely related to HIV-12–6. HIV-2, however, is closely related to SIV (SIVmac) isolated from captive rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)7. SIV infection of feral Asian macaques has not been demonstrated by serological surveys8,9. Thus, macaques may have acquired SIV in captivity by cross-species transmission from an SIV-infected African primate. Sooty mangabeys (Cercocebm atys), an African primate species indigenous to West Africa, however, are infected with SIV (SIVsm) both in captivity9–11and 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.
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Hirsch, V., Olmsted, R., Murphey-Corb, M. et al. An African primate lentivirus (SIVsmclosely related to HIV-2. Nature 339, 389–392 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1038/339389a0
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