Mosi K Bennett and Michael G Agadjanyan 1 Introduction

Human T lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) holds a place in history as the first human retrovirus linked to a specific disease. The isolation of HTLV-I in 1980 was the culmination of a long, intensive search for human retroviruses. HTLV-I is the causal agent of adult T cell leukemia (ATL) and infects at least 10 million people worldwide. Since its initial association with ATL, HTLV-I has also been associated with HTLV-I associated myelopathy (HAM).

No disease etiology has been linked to a second human T lymphotropic virus (HTLV-II) . However, this virus has been isolated from several patients with unusual lymphocytic leukemias. The limited number of individuals shown to harbor HTLV-II in association with specific diseases has complicated the determination of a specific disease etiology.

In addition to its historical importance, research on HTLV has played a significant role in the characterization of another retrovirus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) . HTLV research advances have aided efforts to identify and further understand HIV. Unlike HIV, the cellular receptor for HTLV has not been characterized and the search for this receptor remains a main focus of HTLV research. In this chapter, we will discuss the molecular

MOSI K. BENNETT • Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104. MICHAEL G. AGADJANYAN • Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, and Institute of Viral Preparations, Russian Academy of Medical Science, Moscow, Russia 129028.

Human Retroviral Infections, edited by Kenneth E. Ugen et al. Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers, New York, 2000.

biology of HTLV including recent efforts to identify the HTLV-I receptor and specific adhesion molecules important in HTLV-I cell fusion. Our goal is to further understand the nature of the immunological and molecular aspects of HTLV-I and HTLV-II infection.

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