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J Clin Microbiol. Apr 1992; 30(4): 905–910.
PMCID: PMC265183

Infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and cell lines by cell-free human T-cell lymphoma/leukemia virus type I.


Previous studies of in vitro infection by human T-cell lymphoma/leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) have required cocultivation of target cells with HTLV-I cell lines or vesicular stomatitis virus pseudotypes containing HTLV-I envelope proteins. We report here the development of a cell-free infection assay for HTLV-I. Target cells were incubated with purified, DNase-treated HTLV-I virions for 4 h at 37 degrees C. Target cell DNA was then analyzed for the presence of newly synthesized HTLV-I proviral DNA by the highly sensitive polymerase chain reaction. Using this assay system, we have been able to consistently detect in vitro infection of a variety of cellular targets by different HTLV-I isolates. Optimal infection required the presence of 10 micrograms of DEAE-dextran per ml. The assay was dose dependent with respect to virus input. In general, the amount of proviral DNA detected correlated with the level of HTLV-I receptors present on the surface of the target cells, as measured by fluorochrome-labelled HTLV-I binding. Finally, the specificity of the assay was confirmed by demonstrating that the cell line, L1q, a somatic cell hybrid containing human chromosome 17q, to which the gene for the HTLV-I receptor has been mapped, was susceptible to infection by HTLV-I, while the parental mouse cell line from which it was derived, LMTK-, which lacks human chromosome 17q, was not.

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