Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is an important pathogen of domestic cats. The most common type of malignancy associated with FeLV is T-cell lymphoma. SL3-3 (SL3) is a potent T-cell lymphomagenic murine leukemia virus. Transcriptional enhancer sequences within the long terminal repeats (LTRs) of SL3 and other murine retroviruses are crucial genetic determinants of the pathogenicities of these viruses. The LTR enhancer sequences of FeLV contain identical binding sites for some of the transcription factors that are known to affect the lymphomagenicity of SL3. To test whether the FeLV LTR contains a genetic determinant of lymphomagenicity, a recombinant virus that contained the U3 region of a naturally occurring FeLV isolate, LC-FeLV, linked to the remainder of the genome of SL3 was generated. When inoculated into mice, the recombinant virus induced T-cell lymphomas nearly as quickly as SL3. Moreover, the U3 sequences of LC-FeLV were found to have about half as much transcriptional activity in T lymphocytes as the corresponding sequences of SL3. This level of activity was severalfold higher than that of the LTR of weakly leukemogenic Akv virus. Thus, the FeLV LTR contains a potent genetic determinant of T-cell lymphomagenicity. Presumably, it is adapted to be recognized by transcription factors present in T cells of cats, and this yields a relatively high level of transcription that allows the enhancer to drive the requisite steps in the process of lymphomagenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science