The emergence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causing acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in infected humans has resulted in a global pandemic that has killed millions. HIV-1 and HIV-2 belong to the lentivirus genus of the Retroviridae
family. This genus also includes viruses that infect other vertebrate animals, among them caprine arthritis-encephalitis virus (CAEV) and Maedi-Visna virus (MVV), the prototypes of a heterogeneous group of viruses known as small ruminant lentiviruses (SRLVs), affecting both goat and sheep worldwide. Despite their long host-SRLV natural history, SRLVs were never found to be responsible for immunodeficiency in contrast to primate lentiviruses. SRLVs only replicate productively in monocytes/macrophages in infected animals but not in CD4+ T cells. The focus of this review is to examine and compare the biological and pathological properties of SRLVs as prototypic Tat-independent lentiviruses with HIV-1 as prototypic Tat-dependent lentiviruses. Results from this analysis will help to improve the understanding of why and how these two prototypic lentiviruses evolved in opposite directions in term of virulence and pathogenicity. Results may also help develop new strategies based on the attenuation of SRLVs to control the highly pathogenic HIV-1 in humans.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited