The transcriptional enhancer in the long terminal repeat (LTR) of the T- lymphomagenic retrovirus SL3-3 differs from that of the nonleukemogenic virus Akv at several sites, including a single base pair difference in an element termed the enhancer core. Mutation of this T-A base pair to the C-G sequence found in Akv significantly attenuated the leukemogenicity of SL3-3. Thus, this difference is important for viral leukemogenicity. Since Akv is an endogenous virus, this suggests that the C-G in its core is an adaptation to being minimally pathogenic. Most tumors that occurred in mice inoculated with the mutant virus, called SAA, contained proviruses with reversion or potential suppressor mutations in the enhancer core. We also found that the 72-bp tandem repeats constituting the viral enhancer could vary in number. Most tumors contained mixtures of proviruses with various numbers of 72-bp units, usually between one and four. Variation in repeat number was most likely due to recombination events involving template misalignment during viral replication. Thus, two processes during viral replication, misincorporation and recombination, combined to alter LTR enhancer structure and generate more pathogenic variants from the mutant virus. In SAA-induced tumors, enhancers of proviruses adjacent to c-myc had the largest number of core reversion or suppressor mutations of all of the viral enhancers in those tumors. This observation was consistent with the hypothesis that one function of the LTR enhancers in leukemogenesis is to activate proto-oncogenes such as c-myc.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science