Phylogenetic analysis of polyomavirus simian virus 40 from monkeys and humans reveals genetic variation

Zac H. Forsman, John A. Lednicky, George E. Fox, Richard C. Willson, Zoe S. White, Steven J. Halvorson, Connie Wong, Andrew M. Lewis, Janet S. Butel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


A phylogenetic analysis of 14 complete simian virus 40 (SV40) genomes was conducted in order to determine strain relatedness and the extent of genetic variation. This analysis included infectious isolates recovered between 1960 and 1999 from primary cultures of monkey kidney cells, from contaminated pollovaccines and an adenovirus seed stock, from human malignancies, and from transformed human cells. Maximum-parsimony and distance methods revealed distinct SV40 clades. However, no clear patterns of association between genotype and viral source were apparent. One clade (clade A) is derived from strain 776, the reference strain of SV40. Clade B contains isolates from poliovaccines (strains 777 and Baylor), from monkeys (strains N128, Rh911, and K661), and from human tumors (strains SVCPC and SVMEN). Thus, adaptation is not essential for SV40 survival in humans. The C terminus of the T-antigen (T-ag-C) gene contains the highest proportion of variable sites in the SV40 genome. An analysis based on just the T-ag-C region was highly congruent with the whole-genome analysis; hence, sequencing of just this one region is useful in strain identification. Analysis of an additional 16 strains for which only the T-ag-C gene was sequenced indicated that further SV40 genetic diversity is likely, resulting in a provisional clade (clade C) that currently contains strains associated with human tumors and human strain PML-1. Four other polymorphic regions in the genome were also identified. If these regions were analyzed in conjunction with the T-ag-C region, most of the phylogenetic signal could be captured without complete genome sequencing. This report represents the first whole-genome approach to establishing phylogenetic relatedness among different strains of SV40. It will be important in the future to develop a more complete catalog of SV40 variation in its natural monkey host, to determine if SV40 strains from different clades vary in biological or pathogenic properties, and to identify which SV40 strains are transmissible among humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9306-9316
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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