New strain of simian immunodeficiency virus identified in wild-born chimpanzees from central Africa

PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e44298. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044298. Epub 2012 Sep 12.


Studies of primate lentiviruses continue to provide information about the evolution of simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) and the origin and emergence of HIV since chimpanzees in west-central Africa (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) were recognized as the reservoir of SIVcpzPtt viruses, which have been related phylogenetically to HIV-1. Using in-house peptide ELISAs to study SIV prevalence, we tested 104 wild-born captive chimpanzees from Gabon and Congo. We identified two new cases of SIVcpz infection in Gabon and characterized a new SIVcpz strain, SIVcpzPtt-Gab4. The complete sequence (9093 bp) was obtained by a PCR-based 'genome walking' approach to generate 17 overlapping fragments. Phylogenetic analyses of separated genes (gag, pol-vif and env-nef) showed that SIVcpzPtt-Gab4 is closely related to SIVcpzPtt-Gab1 and SIVcpzPtt-Gab2. No significant variation in viral load was observed during 3 years of follow-up, but a significantly lower CD4+ T cells count was found in infected than in uninfected chimpanzees (p<0.05). No clinical symptoms of SIV infection were observed in the SIV-positive chimpanzees. Further field studies with non-invasive methods are needed to determine the prevalence, geographic distribution, species association, and natural history of SIVcpz strains in the chimpanzee habitat in Gabon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Central
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / immunology
  • Animals, Wild / virology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Female
  • Genes, env
  • Genome, Viral / genetics
  • Geography
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pan troglodytes / immunology
  • Pan troglodytes / virology*
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / blood
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / virology
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus / immunology
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus / isolation & purification*
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus / physiology
  • Viral Proteins / chemistry
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Virus Replication / physiology


  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/GQ915583
  • GENBANK/GQ915584

Grant support

The CIRMF is funded by the Gabonese Government, Total-Gabon and the French Foreign Ministry. The funders had no role in study design, data collection or analysis, the decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. This does not alter the authors' adherence to all the PLoS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.