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Gene Review

rex  - 

Simian T-lymphotropic virus 2

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Disease relevance of rex

  • In all gene regions analyzed, this strain was the most divergent HTLV-2 strain, differing by 2.4% (tax/rex) to 10.7% (long terminal repeat) from both subtypes HTLV-2a and HTLV-2b, yet major functional elements are conserved [1].
  • Investigation of a human T-lymphotropic virus type II (HTLV-II) infection in a female Australian blood donor identified a human bite as the likely mode of transmission, confirmed by nucleotide sequencing of the proviral tax/rex from both donor and contact [2].
  • Tax & rex: overlapping genes of the Deltaretrovirus group [3].

High impact information on rex

  • As expected, HTLV-3(Pyl43) contains open reading frames corresponding to the gag, pol, env, tax, and rex genes [4].
  • Sequence analysis of a 780-base pair fragment (located between the env gene and the second exons of tax/rex) revealed that Amerindian viruses clustered in the same two genetic subtypes (IIa and IIb) previously identified for viruses from intravenous drug users [5].
  • Bovine leukemia virus and human T-cell leukemia viruses I and II, members of the Deltaretrovirus group, have two regulatory genes, tax and rex, that are coded in overlapping reading frames [3].
  • We found that sequence variations in the rex gene of each virus result in amino acid differences significantly more often than variations in the tax gene [3].


  1. African origin of human T-lymphotropic virus type 2 (HTLV-2) supported by a potential new HTLV-2d subtype in Congolese Bambuti Efe Pygmies. Vandamme, A.M., Salemi, M., Van Brussel, M., Liu, H.F., Van Laethem, K., Van Ranst, M., Michels, L., Desmyter, J., Goubau, P. J. Virol. (1998) [Pubmed]
  2. Molecular evidence for transmission of human T-lymphotropic virus type II infection by a human bite. Bolton, W.V., Davis, A.R., Ge, Y.C., Dwyer, D.E., Kenrick, K.G., Cunningham, A.L., Saksena, N.K. J. Clin. Microbiol. (1999) [Pubmed]
  3. Tax & rex: overlapping genes of the Deltaretrovirus group. McGirr, K.M., Buehuring, G.C. Virus Genes (2006) [Pubmed]
  4. Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 3: complete nucleotide sequence and characterization of the human tax3 protein. Calattini, S., Chevalier, S.A., Duprez, R., Afonso, P., Froment, A., Gessain, A., Mahieux, R. J. Virol. (2006) [Pubmed]
  5. Genetic variants of human T-lymphotrophic virus type II in American Indian groups. Biggar, R.J., Taylor, M.E., Neel, J.V., Hjelle, B., Levine, P.H., Black, F.L., Shaw, G.M., Sharp, P.M., Hahn, B.H. Virology (1996) [Pubmed]
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