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J Virol. 1994 Dec;68(12):7800-9.

Enhanced responsiveness to nuclear factor kappa B contributes to the unique phenotype of simian immunodeficiency virus variant SIVsmmPBj14.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, New York 14642.


Infection with a variant of simian immunodeficiency virus, SIVsmmPBj14, leads to severe acute disease in macaques. This study was designed to investigate the functional significance of previously described mutations in the viral long terminal repeat (LTR) and to elucidate their contribution to the unique phenotype of SIVsmmPBj14. LTR-directed transcription was measured by using luciferase reporter constructs that were transiently transfected into cultured cells. In a wide range of cell types, the basal transcriptional activity of the LTR from SIVsmmPBj14 was found to be 2- to 4.5-fold higher than that of an LTR from a non-acutely pathogenic strain. These LTRs differ by five point mutations and a 22-bp duplication in SIVsmmPBj14, which includes a nuclear factor kappa B (NF kappa B) site. Transcriptional differences between these LTRs were further enhanced by two- to threefold upon treatment of cells with phorbol ester or tumor necrosis factor alpha or by cotransfection with plasmids expressing NF kappa B subunits. Mutagenesis studies, and the use of a reporter construct containing an enhancerless promoter, indicate that these transcriptional effects are due principally to the 22-bp sequence duplication and the NF kappa B site contained within it. Finally, infectious virus stocks that were isogenic except for the LTR were generated. The LTR from SIVsmmPBj14 was found to confer an increase in the kinetics of virus replication in cultured cells. Inclusion of this LTR in recombinant SIVs also resulted in a two- to threefold rise in the extent of cellular proliferation that was induced in quiescent simian peripheral blood mononuclear cells. These studies are consistent with the hypothesis that LTR mutations assist SIVsmmPBj14 in responding efficiently to cellular stimulation and allow it to replicate to high titers during the acute phase of viral infection.

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