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Virology. 2007 Apr 25;361(1):112-22. Epub 2006 Dec 12.

Expression of feline immunodeficiency virus Vif is associated with reduced viral mutation rates without restoration of replication of vif mutant viruses.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University, C4-137 Veterinary Medical Center, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


The vif gene of lentiviruses has been demonstrated to be essential for efficient viral replication in many cell types. Although the Vif protein of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) displays limited homology to HIV-1 Vif, the role of vif in FIV replication is not known. We have examined the requirements of vif for replication of a FIV strain isolated from a non-domestic felid, Otocolobus manul (FIV-Oma). In agreement with others, we find that replication of FIV vif mutant molecular clones in CrFK cells is highly attenuated. Initial attempts to rescue vif mutant viruses in trans were limited by lack of detectable wild-type Vif expression from DNA constructs. We demonstrate that FIV-Oma Vif expression can be increased by re-synthesis of the gene to remove splice donor and acceptor sites as well as improving codon usage to a mammalian codon optimized model. Cellular localization of resynthesized Vif (Vif-RS) is cytoplasmic. Clonal stable transfectants expressing HA-tagged Vif-RS do not restore replication levels of vif mutant virus. However, in such cell lines, G-to-A mutation rates in replicating wild-type viruses are reduced.

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