Activator-dependent and activator-independent defective recombinant retroviruses from bovine leukemia virus.


The replication-competent bovine leukemia virus (BLV) has been modified for use as a vector for foreign genes. The gag, pol, env, and pX regions of the virus were replaced by an exogenous nuclear location signal LacZ (nlsLacZ) or SVnlsLacZ gene. Transfection of the ovine cell line FLK-BLV, which expresses all BLV proteins from a wild-type provirus, with this viral DNA resulted in a viral titer of 10(4) CFU/ml. The inclusion of a large portion of the gag region did not significantly increase the titer. Both activator-dependent and activator-independent retroviruses were constructed. In activator-dependent vectors, the expression of the insert was dependent on the presence of the Tax protein, which activated the BLV long terminal repeat. In activator-independent vectors, the expression of the insert was constitutive because of the presence of an internal promoter. Infections with the recombinant retrovirus were inhibited by specific neutralizing antibodies. The structure of the transduced genetic material was not rearranged. BLV vectors encoding a reporter nlsLacZ gene, the product of which can be detected in single cells, greatly simplified studies of their biological properties. Determination of the host range of BLV vectors established that BLV-based recombinant retroviruses are effective in the transduction of genes in a variety of species and cell types.

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