Geographic characteristics of HTLV-1 molecular subgroups and genetic substitutions in East Asia: Insights from complete genome sequencing of HTLV-1 strains isolated in Taiwan and Japan

by | Feb 5, 2024 | Publications

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2024 Feb 5;18(2):e0011928. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0011928. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Although Japan is a major endemic area for human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and the virus has been well-studied in this region, there is limited research on HTLV-1 in surrounding regions. In this study, we determined the complete genome sequences of HTLV-1 strains isolated from Taiwan and Japan and investigated the geographic characteristics of molecular subgroups and substitution mutations to understand the spread of HTLV-1 and its correlation with human migration.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The complete genome sequences of 26 HTLV-1 isolates from Taiwan were determined using next-generation sequencing and were compared with those of 211 isolates from Japan in terms of subgroup and genetic mutations. In total, 15/26 (58%) isolates from Taiwan belonged to the transcontinental subgroup and 11/26 (42%) isolates belonged to the Japanese subgroup. The transcontinental subgroup was significantly more prevalent among Taiwanese isolates than Japanese isolates (58% vs 18%, P < 0.0001). The mutation rate for the complete HTLV-1 sequence was as low as 0.2%. On examining individual base substitutions, the G-to-A mutation was predominant. Bayesian phylogenetic tree analysis estimated the time to the most recent common ancestor for the transcontinental and Japanese subgroups to be 28447 years. The transcontinental subgroups from Taiwan and Japan appeared to form clusters according to their respective regions.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The transcontinental subgroup of HTLV-1 is predominant in Taiwan, while the Japanese subgroup is common in Japan. The difference in subgroup distribution may be attributed to the initial spread of the transcontinental subgroup in East Asia, followed by the influx of the Japanese subgroup.

PMID:38315729 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pntd.0011928

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