SIMIAN immunodeficiency viruses have been isolated from four species of monkey, the 'captive' macaque1 and mangabey2–4 and the 'feral' African green monkey5 and mandrill6. While none of these viruses is a replica of HIV-1, the macaque7 and mangabey8 viruses represent correct genetic models for HIV-2, possessing exactly the same complement of genes. Recently a lentivirus has been identified in two wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) in Gabon, west equatorial Africa, and isolated from one of them9. This virus is referred to as SIVCPZ. Sera from these animals cross reacted with all the HIV-1 proteins including the envelope glycoproteins. Here, we describe the molecular cloning and sequencing of an infectious proviral clone of SIVCPZ. The overall genetic organization was the same as that of HIV-1, but phylogenetic analysis revealed that the sequence was more divergent than any HIV-1 sequence reported so far. The vpu gene product, found only in the type 1 viruses, was particularly different (64% divergent to HIV-1BRU) suggesting that the SIVCPZ represents a distinct subtype. These findings indicate that there is a larger pool of simian lentiviruses than previously suspected and revives debate as to the origins of HIV-1.
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Huet, T., Cheynier, R., Meyerhans, A. et al. Genetic organization of a chimpanzee lentivirus related to HIV-1. Nature 345, 356–359 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1038/345356a0
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