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J Virol. 1991 Sep;65(9):4691-8.

A single point mutation activates the Moloney murine leukemia virus long terminal repeat in embryonal stem cells.

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Heinrich-Pette-Institut für Experimentelle Virologie und Immunologie, Universität Hamburg, Germany.


The expression of Moloney murine leukemia virus (Mo-MuLV) and Mo-MuLV-derived vectors is restricted in undifferentiated mouse embryonal carcinoma and embryonal stem (ES) cells. We have previously described the isolation of retroviral mutants with host range properties expanded to embryonal cell lines. One of these mutants, the murine embryonic stem cell virus (MESV), is expressed in ES cell lines. Expression of MESV in these cells relies on DNA sequence motifs within the enhancer region of the viral long terminal repeat (LTR). Here we show that replacement of the Mo-MuLV enhancer region by sequences derived from the MESV LTR results in the activation of the Mo-MuLV LTR in ES cells. The enhancer regions of MESV and Mo-MuLV differ by seven point mutations. Of these, a single point mutation at position -166 is sufficient to activate the Mo-MuLV LTR and to confer enhancer-dependent expression to Mo-MuLV-derived retroviral vectors in ES cells. This point mutation creates a recognition site for a sequence-specific DNA-binding factor present in nuclear extracts of ES cells. This factor was found by functional assays to be the murine equivalent to human Sp1.

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