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Am J Pathol. 1993 Apr;142(4):1061-71.

Human foamy virus proteins accumulate in neurons and induce multinucleated giant cells in the brain of transgenic mice.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Pathology, Vienna, Austria.

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  • Am J Pathol 1993 Aug;143(2):648.


Human foamy virus (HFV) is a retrovirus encoding structural genes and, like human immunodeficiency virus and human T cell leukemia virus I, several ancillary reading frames collectively termed the be1 genes. We have previously shown that HFV transgenic mice develop an encephalopathy with neuronal loss in hippocampus and cerebral cortex. We have now raised and characterized rabbit antisera to various recombinant portions of gag, pol, env, and bel-1, the viral trans-activator. Immunoreactivity for gag and bel-1 was observed in nuclei and processes of hippocampal and cortical neurons before the onset of morphological lesions and correlated with the appearance of HFV mRNA. Astrocyte-derived multinucleated giant cells containing HFV proteins were present in the brain of transgenic mice coexpressing full-length HFV genes but not in mice expressing truncated gag and env, suggesting that these genes contain a fusogenic domain. Expression of full-length structural genes decreased the life expectancy of transgenic mice, implying an adjuvant role for these proteins in HFV-induced brain damage.

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