This report describes the use of a recombinant murine retrovirus encoding beta-galactosidase (PLJ beta-gal retrovirus) to study the antiretroviral activity of zidovudine (AZT) and other nucleoside analogs. The PLJ beta-gal virus permits the rapid and unequivocal identification of individual virus-infected cells arising from a single cycle of viral replication. With this model system, AZT is shown to completely and irreversibly prevent retrovirus infection of proliferating cell lines as measured by a lack of reporter gene expression. On the other hand, AZT is less effective in protecting growth-arrested cells from retroviral infection. Recombinant retroviruses such as the PLJ beta-gal virus are potentially useful reagents for the identification and characterization of antiretroviral compounds
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