Five major subtypes of human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) have been proposed: cosmopolitan, Japanese, West African, Central African, and Melanesian. Based on nucleotide variations specific to particular subtypes, it was possible to genotype HTLV-I rapidly by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) studies following polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In this study, the restriction patterns of two LTR fragments were analyzed using eight restriction endonucleases (AvaI, Eco57I, BsoFI, NdeI, SacI, DraI, MaeII, and MaeIII). Genotyping of HTLV-I was done in nine patients with adult T-cell leukemia or HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis, in three prostitutes, and in 19 carriers with multiple transfusion in Taiwan. The subtyping results of RFLP studies using these eight restriction endonucleases were in accordance with those of phylogenetic analysis. A substitution of G by A at nucleotide position 503, which creates the DraI site but suppresses the SacI site, was found not only in the Japanese subtype but also in a minority of the cosmopolitan subtype. A mutation near the position of subtype-specific nucleotide variations might suppress the restriction site and lead to unexpected restriction patterns. Amplification of more than one proviral fragment and RFLP studies with a group of appropriate restriction endonucleases may provide rapid and accurate genotyping of HTLV-I. More carriers are required to evaluate the possibility of mixed infection with different HTLV-I subtypes.
- Human T-lymphotropic virus type I
- Long terminal repeat
- Polymerase chain reaction
- Restriction fragment length polymorphism
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