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J Virol. 1990 Dec;64(12):5764-72.

Characterization of the gag/fusion protein encoded by the defective Duplan retrovirus inducing murine acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Clinical Research Institute of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Murine acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is induced by a defective retrovirus. Sequencing of this defective viral genome revealed a long open reading frame which encodes a putative gag/fusion protein, N-MA-p12-CA-NC-COOH, (D. C. Aziz, Z. Hanna, and P. Jolicoeur, Nature (London) 338:505-508, 1989). We raised a specific antibody to the unique p12 domain of this gag fusion precursor, Pr60gag. We found that Pr60gag was indeed encoded by the defective viral genome both in cell-free translation reticulocyte extracts and in infected mouse fibroblasts. Pr60gag was found to be myristylated, phosphorylated, and attached to the cell membrane, like other helper murine leukemia virus (MuLV) gag precursors. Pr60gag was not substantially cleaved within the nonproducer cells and was not released from these cells. However, in the presence of helper MuLV proteins, it formed phenotypically mixed particles. In these particles, Pr60gag was only partially cleaved. In helper MuLV-producing cells harboring the defective virus, a gag-related p40 intermediate was generated both intracellularly and extracellularly. In these cells, Pr60gag appeared to behave as a dominant negative mutant, interfering with proper cleavage of helper Pr65gag. Our data indicate that Pr60gag is a major (and possibly the only) gene product of the defective murine acquired immunodeficiency syndrome virus and is likely to harbor some determinants of pathogenicity of this virus.

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