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J Virol. 2011 Apr;85(8):3842-57. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01880-10. Epub 2011 Feb 9.

Restriction of porcine endogenous retrovirus by porcine APOBEC3 cytidine deaminases.

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  • 1Division of Medical Biotechnology, Paul Ehrlich Institut, Langen, Germany.


Xenotransplantation of porcine cells, tissues, and organs shows promise to surmount the shortage of human donor materials. Among the barriers to pig-to-human xenotransplantation are porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV) since functional representatives of the two polytropic classes, PERV-A and PERV-B, are able to infect human embryonic kidney cells in vitro, suggesting that a xenozoonosis in vivo could occur. To assess the capacity of human and porcine cells to counteract PERV infections, we analyzed human and porcine APOBEC3 (A3) proteins. This multigene family of cytidine deaminases contributes to the cellular intrinsic immunity and act as potent inhibitors of retroviruses and retrotransposons. Our data show that the porcine A3 gene locus on chromosome 5 consists of the two single-domain genes A3Z2 and A3Z3. The evolutionary relationships of the A3Z3 genes reflect the evolutionary history of mammals. The two A3 genes encode at least four different mRNAs: A3Z2, A3Z3, A3Z2-Z3, and A3Z2-Z3 splice variant A (SVA). Porcine and human A3s have been tested toward their antiretroviral activity against PERV and murine leukemia virus (MuLV) using novel single-round reporter viruses. The porcine A3Z2, A3Z3 and A3Z2-Z3 were packaged into PERV particles and inhibited PERV replication in a dose-dependent manner. The antiretroviral effect correlated with editing by the porcine A3s with a trinucleotide preference for 5' TGC for A3Z2 and A3Z2-Z3 and 5' CAC for A3Z3. These results strongly imply that human and porcine A3s could inhibit PERV replication in vivo, thereby reducing the risk of infection of human cells by PERV in the context of pig-to-human xenotransplantation.

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