All murine leukemia viruses (MuLVs) and related type C retroviruses contain a highly conserved binding site for the Ets family of transcription factors within the enhancer sequences in the viral long terminal repeats (LTRs). The T-cell lymphomagenic MuLV SL3-3 (SL3-3) also contains a c-Myb binding site adjacent to the Ets site. The presence of this Myb site distinguishes SL3 from most other MuLVs. We tested the importance of these two sites for the lymphomagenicity of SL3-3. Mutation of the Ets site had little effect on viral pathogenicity, as it only slightly extended the latency period to disease onset. In contrast, mutation of the Myb site strongly inhibited pathogenicity, as only a minority of the inoculated mice developed tumors in the two mouse strains that were tested. All tumors that were induced by either mutant appeared to be lymphomas, and no evidence for reversion of either mutation was detected. The effects of the Ets and Myb site mutations on transcriptional activity of the SL3 LTR were tested by inserting the viral enhancer sequences into a plasmid containing the promoter region of the c-myc gene linked to a reporter gene. Mutation the Myb site almost eliminated enhancer activity in T lymphocytes, while mutation of the Ets site had smaller effects. Thus, the effects of the enhancer mutations on transcriptional activity in T cells paralleled their effects on vital lymphomagenicity. The absence of the c-Myb site in the LTR enhancer of the weakly lymphomagenic MuLV, Akv, likely contributes in the low pathogenicity of this virus relative to SL3-3. However, Moloney MuLV also lacks the Myb site in its LTR, although it induces T-cell lymphomas with a potency similar to that of SL3-3. Thus, it appears that SL3-3 and Moloney MuLV evolved genetic determinants of T-cell lymphomagenicity that are, at least in part, distinct.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science