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Virology. 2003 Sep 1;313(2):427-34.

Analyses of prevalence and polymorphisms of six replication-competent and chromosomally assigned porcine endogenous retroviruses in individual pigs and pig subspecies.

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  • 1Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Langen, Germany.


As porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV) productively infect human cells in vitro, they pose a serious risk in xenotransplantation and xenogeneic cell therapies. We have analyzed the prevalence of six well-characterized full-length PERV, five of them being replication-competent and four of them being chromosomally assigned (J. Virol. 75 (2001) 5465; J. Virol. 76 (2002) 2714). These analyses revealed a heterogeneous distribution of PERV among individuals and, as no PERV is present in every pig, it seems feasible to generate pigs free of functional PERV by conventional breeding. Conversely, as PERV are polymorphic, single proviruses may have escaped detection and this kind of assay must be performed for every herd used in xenotransplantation or xenogeneic cell therapies. In addition, specific proviruses show internal point mutations which significantly affect their replicational capacities. As there are two different types of PERV LTR structures showing varying levels of transcriptional capacity (J. Virol. 75 (2001) 6933), an analysis of 21 distinct chromosomal locations revealed that PERV which harbor highly active LTRs with repeat elements in U3 are dominant.

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