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J Virol. Apr 1992; 66(4): 1959–1970.
PMCID: PMC288984

CArG, CCAAT, and CCAAT-like protein binding sites in avian retrovirus long terminal repeat enhancers.


A strong enhancer element is located within the long terminal repeats (LTRs) of exogenous, oncogenic avian retroviruses, such as Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) and the avian leukosis viruses. The LTRs of a second class of avian retroviruses, the endogenous viruses (evs), lack detectable enhancer function, a property that correlates with major sequence differences between the LTRs of these two virus groups. Despite this lack of independent enhancer activity, we previously identified sequences in ev LTRs that were able to functionally replace essential enhancer domains from the RSV enhancer with which they share limited sequence similarity. To identify candidate enhancer domains in ev LTRs that are functionally equivalent to those in RSV LTRs, we analyzed and compared ev and RSV LTR-specific DNA-protein interactions. Using this approach, we identified two candidate enhancer domains and one deficiency in ev LTRs. One of the proposed ev enhancer domains was identified as a CArG box, a motif also found upstream of several muscle-specific genes, and as the core sequence of the c-fos serum response element. The RSV LTR contains two CArG motifs, one at a previously identified site and one identified in this report at the same relative location as the ev CArG motif. A second factor binding site that interacts with a heat-stable protein was also identified in ev LTRs and, contrary to previous suggestions, appears to be different from previously described exogenous virus enhancer binding proteins. Finally, a deficiency in factor binding was found within the one inverted CCAAT box in ev LTRs, affirming the importance of sequences that flank CCAAT motifs in factor binding and providing a candidate defect in the ev enhancer.

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