Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) is associated with adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) and HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAMITSP). The nucleotide sequences of 640 by of the proviral genome (positions 5158-5797) derived from 11 HTLV-I-infected persons were analyzed using the polymerase chain reaction and M13-based sequencing techniques. Patterns of single nucleotide substitutions were characterized from the extracellular domain of the envelope gene (gp46). Compared with other retroviruses, the nucleotide sequences of the HTLV-I external envelope gene are highly conserved among the genotypes studied. We found no evidence of dual infections with HTLV-II among the seropositive asymptomatic persons or in patients with either ATL or HAMITSP. No unique sequence differences were observed in the envelope gene of the HTLV-I isolates derived from patients coinfected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). However, comparative analysis of these data and other published HTLV-I envelope sequences indicated the presence of four subtypes of HTLV-I in relation to their geographic origin.
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