Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) genetic typing in Kakeroma Island, an island at the crossroads of the ryukyuans and Wajin in Japan, providing further insights into the origin of the virus in Japan


  • Dr. Yamamoto and Dr. Eguchi have full access to all the data in the study and had final responsibility for the decision to submit for publication. All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

  • Author's contributions: Study concept and design: T. Yamammoto; Acquisition of data: K. Eguchi, K. Oshima, M. Otani, and H. Fujii; Analysis and interpretation of data: T. Yamamoto and K. Eguchi; Drafting of manuscript: T. Yamamoto and K. Eguchi; Critical revision of manuscript for important intellectual content: K. Oshima, M. Otani and H. Fujii; Obtaining of funding: T. Yamamoto.


Peripheral blood samples were collected from 23 human T-lymphotropic virus type-1 (HTLV-1) carriers residing in Kakeroma Island, Japan (Kagoshima Prefecture, Oshima County, Setouchi Town), one of the most highly endemic areas in Japan. The samples were subjected to amplification by PCR and sequencing of the Long Terminal Repeat in order to reconstruct a phylogenetic tree of HTLV-1 isolates. Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of env region was also conducted for subgrouping of HTLV-1. Although one sample could not be amplified by PCR, and three more could not be sequenced due to the existence of conspicuous nonspecific bands or repeated sequences, the phylogenetic analysis revealed that the remaining 19 isolates obtained from Kakeroma Island belonged to either the Transcontinental or the Japanese subgroups of the Cosmopolitan subtype, one of the three major subtypes. The RFLP data corresponded closely with the typing data throughout the sequencing. The proportion of the Transcontinental subgroup among the isolates was 26.3% (5 of 19) by sequence analysis and 27.3% (6 of 22) by RFLP. Unlike in Taiwan, China and Okinawa, the Japanese subgroup was dominant in Kakeroma Island. The analysis would also suggest that the Japanese subgroup seems not to have derived from the Transcontinental subgroup, but rather that the Transcontinental subgroup came to Japan first and was followed later by the Japanese one. J. Med. Virol. 81:1450–1456, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.