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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Dec 1988; 85(23): 9263–9267.
PMCID: PMC282719

Even transcriptionally competent proviruses are silent in bovine leukemia virus-induced sheep tumor cells.

Abstract

To investigate the role of proviral integration and expression in cellular transformation induced by bovine leukemia virus (BLV), three BLV-induced tumors harboring a single proviral copy were selected upon restriction and hybridization analysis. Tumors 344 and 395 were shown to contain a full-size proviral copy, whereas in tumor 1345 the provirus appeared to be heavily deleted. RNA gel blot hybridization with an antisense RNA probe showed no transcription of the viral sequences in the fresh tumors or in sheep tumor cells growing in vitro. The proviruses were cloned and transfected in mammalian cell lines. Transient-expression experiments revealed that the complete proviruses were still able to express the trans-activating protein (Tat) as well as structural proteins, demonstrating that the nonexpression of a provirus in a tumor cell does not necessarily imply a structural alteration of the viral information. In contrast, sequence analysis of the provirus with a large deletion and transient-expression assays proved that this truncated provirus, isolated from a tumor, was unable to code for viral proteins. These data indicate that expression of viral genes, including tat, is not required for the maintenance of the transformed state.

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Selected References

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