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J Virol. 2005 Jan;79(2):927-33.

Transformation of madin-darby canine kidney epithelial cells by sheep retrovirus envelope proteins.

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  • 1Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Ave. N., Room C2-105, Seattle, WA 98109-1024, USA.


Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV) and enzootic nasal tumor virus (ENTV) induce epithelial tumors in the airways of sheep and goats. In both of these simple retroviruses, the envelope (Env) protein is the active oncogene. Furthermore, JSRV Env can transform cultured cells by two distinct mechanisms. In rat and mouse fibroblasts, the cytoplasmic tail of JSRV Env is essential for transformation, which involves activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway, and the virus receptor hyaluronidase 2 (Hyal2) is not involved. In contrast, in the BEAS-2B human bronchial epithelial cell line, transformation is mediated by JSRV Env binding to Hyal2 followed by Hyal2 degradation and activation of the receptor tyrosine kinase RON, the activity of which is normally suppressed by Hyal2. Here we show that JSRV and ENTV Env proteins can also transform Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) epithelial cells, but by a mechanism similar to that observed in fibroblast cell lines. In particular, the cytoplasmic tail of Env is required for transformation, the PI3K/Akt pathway is activated, expression of RON (which is not normally expressed in MDCK cells) does not affect transformation, and canine Hyal2 appears uninvolved. These results show that the JSRV and ENTV Env proteins can transform epithelial cells besides BEAS-2B cells and argue against a model for Env transformation involving different pathways that are uniquely active in fibroblasts or epithelial cells.

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