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Immunol Ser. 1994;60:589-600.

Lentivirus infection of macrophages.

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Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.


The ovine and caprine lentiviruses infect monocytes, and the viral DNA is integrated into the cellular DNA. The provirus remains silent until the monocyte matures into a macrophage. Intrinsic to this maturation is the induction of a class of immediate early genes in the monocyte that includes the transcription factors JUN and FOS. These transcription factors are thought to couple short-term signals in the cell to long-term cellular differentiation by regulation of specific cellular genes. Thus, JUN and FOS bind to the AP-1 site in the promoters of cellular genes and activate their transcription, resulting in maturation of the monocyte into a macrophage. In addition, these cellular factors activate the same AP-1 sequence in the visna virus LTR, leading to transcriptional activation, full viral gene expression, and production of progeny virus. The expression of viral antigens in the context of MHC class II on the macrophage leads to the production of cytokines and a lymphoproliferative response that causes the lesions in specific target organs in an infected animal. We still understand only the framework of these events. The specific mechanisms by which viral genes alter macrophage gene expression and the molecular basis of different viral tropism for specific tissue macrophages, i.e. microglia, remain to be determined.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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