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J Gen Virol. 2002 Nov;83(Pt 11):2733-42.

The jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus envelope gene induces transformation of the avian fibroblast cell line DF-1 but does not require a conserved SH2 binding domain.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523, USA.


Ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma, caused by jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV), is a naturally occurring retrovirus-induced pulmonary neoplasm of sheep. We report here that expression of the JSRV env gene is sufficient to transform an avian embryo fibroblast cell line, DF-1. DF-1 cells transfected with an avian sarcoma-leukaemia retroviral expression vector containing the JSRV env gene [pRCASBP(A)-J:env] exhibited changes consistent with transformation, including contraction and rounding of cells with formation of dense foci. Transfection with a reporter construct expressing the green fluorescent protein did not induce morphological changes in DF-1 cells, eliminating the possibility that the vector, the transfection protocol or culturing techniques were responsible for the transformed phenotype. When pRCASBP(A)-J:env-transfected cells were inoculated into nude mice, tumours formed, verifying that the DF-1 cells were tumorigenic. Analysis of the JSRV env gene revealed a conserved tyrosine (597) and methionine (600) residue in the cytoplasmic tail within the transmembrane domain of the envelope, which creates a known binding site of SH2 domains in the p85 subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase. However, when this tyrosine residue was mutated to serine or alanine, transformation was not affected. Furthermore, mutation of the methionine residue to valine or leucine also failed to eliminate JSRV env-mediated transformation. These results are in contrast to mutational analysis performed in JSRV env-transformed murine NIH-3T3 cells in which both the tyrosine and methionine residues are necessary for transformation. These findings suggest that more than one mechanism may be involved in JSRV env-mediated transformation.

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