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J Virol. 1999 Aug;73(8):6964-72.

Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus is necessary and sufficient to induce a contagious lung cancer in sheep.

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  • 1Cancer Research Institute and Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California 92697, USA.


Sheep pulmonary adenomatosis (SPA) is a contagious and experimentally transmissible lung cancer of sheep resembling human bronchiolo-alveolar carcinoma. A type D retrovirus, known as jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV), has been associated with the etiology of SPA, but its exact role in the induction of the tumor has not been clear due to the lack of (i) a tissue culture system for the propagation of JSRV and (ii) an infectious JSRV molecular clone. To investigate the role of JSRV in the etiology of SPA, we isolated a full-length JSRV proviral clone, pJSRV21, from a tumor genomic DNA library derived from a natural case of SPA. pJSRV21 was completely sequenced and showed open reading frames in agreement with those deduced for the original South African strain of JSRV. In vivo transfection of three newborn lambs by intratracheal inoculation with pJSRV21 DNA complexed with cationic lipids showed that pJSRV21 is an infectious molecular clone. Viral DNA was detected in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of the transfected animals by a highly sensitive JSRV-U3 heminested PCR at various time points ranging from 2 weeks to 6 months posttransfection. In addition, proviral DNA was detected in the PBMCs, lungs, and mediastinal lymph nodes of two lambs sacrificed 9 months posttransfection, but no macroscopic or histological SPA lesion was induced. We prepared JSRV particles by transient transfection of 293T cells with a JSRV construct (pCMV2JS21) in which the upstream U3 was replaced with the cytomegalovirus early promoter. Four newborn lambs were inoculated with JSRV21 particles produced in this manner, and two of them showed the classical signs of SPA 4 months postinfection. The resulting tumors were positive for JSRV DNA and protein. Thus, JSRV21 is an infectious and pathogenic molecular clone and is necessary and sufficient to induce sheep pulmonary adenomatosis.

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