Three major types of HTLV-I had been proposed, the Melanesian type, the Zairian type, and the cosmopolitan type, which was further divided into subtypes A, B and C, according to the phylogenetic tree constructed from LTR sequences of current HLTV-I isolates. In this study, the envelope gene sequences of HTLV-I from 9 Taiwanese were analyzed. Based on the phylogenetic tree constructed by unweighed pair group method and the sequence homology analysis by GCG computer programs, the envelope gene sequences of HTLV-I proviruses from these 9 Taiwanese belonged to subtype A or subtype B of the cosmopolitan type and were closely related to HTLV-I from Japan. Twelve subtype-specific nucleotide variations were deduced from the comparison of complete or partial envelope gene sequences of 16 HTLV-I isolates of known subtypes as well as those of 9 Taiwanese. These data provided the basis for subtyping the cosmopolitan type of HTLV-I by amplification of envelope gene sequences and restriction fragment length polymorphism studies. A more extensive survey based upon this proposal was warranted.
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