Human T-cell leukaemia virus (HTLV), first isolated in the United States from a patient with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma1, is a unique 2,3 horizontally transmitted2,4 retrovirus which is highly associated with certain adult T-cell malignancies5-11. Also, HTLV can be transmitted in vitro to cord blood T-lymphocytes8. In the accompanying paper12 it was shown that all T cells producing HTLV, whether cultured from infected persons or infected in vitro, bind a monoclonal antibody (4D12)13 which recognizes an epitope shared by certain cross-reactive class I major histocompatibility antigens. This antigen may account for the extra HLA-A and -B specificities detected in HTLV-infected cells using alloantisera4. Because of the unusual findings of apparently inappropriate HLA antigens in HTLV infected cells, we had previously looked for rearrangement of class I-related genes in HTLV infected cells but failed to find any14. Here, using molecular clones of HTLV and human major histocompatibility antigen DNA, we have shown homology between the envelope gene region of HTLV and the region of an HLA-B locus gene which codes for the extracellular portion of a class I histocompatibility antigen.
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