Evolutionary origin of human and simian immunodeficiency viruses.
From what viruses the human immunodeficiency viruses (HIVs) originated is an extremely controversial question. To address this question, we have analyzed nucleotide sequences of simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) and HIVs by using the techniques for understanding molecular evolution. In particular, we compared the nucleotide sequences of whole genomes, gene region by gene region, between a given pair of viruses, including four types of SIVs--isolated from mandrills (Papio sphinx), African green monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops), sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys), and rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)--as well as HIVs. Phylogenetic trees for all gene regions examined showed that the present HIVs may have emerged as different variants of SIVs of Old World monkeys, possibly from recombination between viruses related to SIVs.