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Virology. 2003 Jul 20;312(1):95-105.

Relevance of Akt phosphorylation in cell transformation induced by Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


Expression of the JSRV envelope (Env) is sufficient to transform immortalized rodent fibroblasts. A putative docking site for the PI3-K kinase (Y(590)-X-X-M(593)) in the cytoplasmic tail of the transmembrane domain of the JSRV Env is a major determinant of viral-induced cell transformation. Akt is constitutively phosphorylated in rodent fibroblasts transformed by the JSRV Env. However, recent data suggest that Y590 and M593 are not necessary for JSRV Env-induced transformation of the immortalized chicken fibroblasts cell line DF-1. In this study we found that JSRV-induced transformation of DF-1 cells is Akt-independent. In addition, a replication-competent avian vector expressing the JSRV Env (RCASBP(A)+JE) was also able to induce transformation of primary chicken embryo fibroblasts (CEF). Vectors expressing JSRV Env Y590 mutants were still able to induce CEF cells transformation but not as efficiently as the vectors expressing the wild-type Env. In CEF cells, as in DF-1 cells, only the expression of the wild-type Env induced constitutive phosphorylation of Akt. Thus, in chicken cells, the degree of transformation induced by the JSRV Env is maximum in the presence of Y590 and Akt phosphorylation. We addressed the significance of Akt phosphorylation in rat 208F cells transformed by the JSRV Env and showed that Akt is indeed activated and shows kinase activity. Inhibitors of the PI-3K/Akt pathway reproducibly decreased the transformation efficiency of the JSRV Env. In vivo, we found phosphorylated Akt only in nasal tumors induced by the enzootic nasal tumor virus (ENTV), a JSRV-related beta-retrovirus. No evidence of Akt phosphorylation was found in lung tumor sections of sheep affected by pulmonary adenocarcinoma. As a whole, these results suggest that the activation of the PI-3K/Akt pathway contributes to the process of JSRV-induced cell transformation but most likely is not the primary determinant both in vitro and in vivo.

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