VL30 elements are a dispersed multigene family that is ubiquitous in all murine cells. Despite not sharing nucleic acid sequence homology with natural retroviruses (exogenous or endogenous), VL30 elements are distinguished by several retrovirus-like features. By screening a mouse embryonic library, we have cloned DNA units that contain VL30 sequences linked to MuLV-related sequences. Using blot hybridization with the aid of specific subgenomic probes and heteroduplex analyses, we have established that the DNA element is composed of two VL30 long terminal repeat (LTR) units, a limited subset of VL30 information adjacent to both 5' and 3' LTRs, and an enclosure of MuLV-related information that shares homology primarily with MuLV gag and pol determinants (but lacks MuLV-related LTRs). This sequence arrangement is reciprocal in nature to the recombinations between MuLV and rat VL30 that generated the genomes of the Harvey and Kirsten strains of mouse sarcoma virus and most likely is the consequence of recombination between VL30 and MuLV-related elements and the subsequent deposition of the putative recombinant DNA in the mouse genome
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