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Defective endogenous viruses are expressed in feline lymphoid cells: evidence for a role in natural resistance to subgroup B feline leukemia viruses

By A. McDougall, A. Terry, T. Tzavaras, C. Cheney, J. Roijko and J.C. Neil


Endogenous feline leukemia virus (FeLV)-related sequences (enFeLV) are a family of proviral elements found in domestic cats and their close relatives. These elements can recombine with exogenous, infectious FeLVs of subgroup A (FeLV-A), giving rise to host range variants of FeLV-B. We found that a subset of defective enFeLV proviruses is highly expressed in lymphoma cell lines and in a variety of primary tissues, including lymphoid tissues from healthy specific-pathogen-free cats. At least two RNA species were detected, a 4.5-kb RNA containing gag, env, and long terminal repeat sequences and a 2-kb RNA containing env and long terminal repeat sequences. Cloning of enFeLV cDNA from two FeLV-free lymphoma cell lines (3201 and MCC) revealed a long open reading frame (ORF) encoding a truncated env gene product corresponding to the N-terminal portion of gp70env. Interestingly, all of three natural FeLV-B isolates include 3' env sequences which are missing from the highly transcribed subset and hence must be derived from other enFeLV elements. The enFeLV env ORF cDNA clones were closely similar to a previously characterized enFeLV provirus, CFE-16, but were polymorphic at a site corresponding to an exogenous FeLV neutralization epitope. Site-specific antiserum raised to a C-terminal 30-amino-acid peptide of the enFeLV env ORF detected an intracellular product of 35 kDa which was also shed from cells in stable form. Expression of the 35-kDa protein correlated with enFeLV RNA levels and was negatively correlated with susceptibility to infection with FeLV-B. Cell culture supernatant containing the 35-kDa protein specifically blocked infection of permissive fibroblast cells with FeLV-B isolates. We suggest that the truncated env protein mediates resistance by receptor blockade and that this form of enFeLV expression mediates the natural resistance of cats to infection with FeLV-B in the absence of FeLV-A

Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Year: 1994
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Enlighten
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