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Virology. 2006 Jan 5;344(1):25-9.

Avian sarcoma and leukosis virus-receptor interactions: from classical genetics to novel insights into virus-cell membrane fusion.

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  • 1The Infectious Disease Laboratory, The Salk Institute, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037-1099, USA.


For over 40 years, avian sarcoma and leukosis virus (ASLV)-receptor interactions have been employed as a useful model system to study the mechanism of retroviral entry into cells. Pioneering studies on this system focused upon the genetic basis of the differential susceptibilities of different lines of chickens to infection by distinct subgroups of ASLV. These studies led to the definition of three distinct autosomal recessive genes that were predicted to encode cellular receptors for different viral subgroups. They also led to the concept of viral interference, i.e. the mechanism by which infection by one virus can render cells resistant to reinfection by other viruses that use the same cellular receptor. Here, we review the contributions that analyses of the ASLV-receptor system have made in unraveling the mechanisms of retroviral entry into cells and focus on key findings such as identification and characterization of the ASLV receptor genes and the subsequent elucidation of an unprecedented mechanism of virus-cell fusion. Since many of the initial findings on this system were published in the early volumes of Virology, this subject is especially well suited to this special anniversary issue of the journal.

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