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J Neurovirol. 1997 Feb;3(1):28-37.

Establishment and characterization of conditionally immortalized astrocytes to study their interaction with ts1, a neuropathogenic mutant of Moloney murine leukemia virus.

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University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Science Park-Research Division, Smithville 78957, USA.


The cytopathic infection of primary astrocytes with ts1, a neuroimmunopathogenic mutant of Moloney murine leukemia virus (MuLV), has been correlated to intracellular accumulation of viral precursor envelope protein gPr80env. To further study this specific virus-astrocyte interaction in a homogenous population, several immortal astrocyte lines were established from neonatal FVB/N mice using the temperature-sensitive SV40 tsA58 T antigen. These cells expressed glial fibrillary acidic protein, vimentin and T antigen; appeared nontransformed; were star-shape with long processes. They were susceptible to ts1 infection and suffered a cytopathic effect similar to that caused by ts1 infection of primary astrocytes. This cytopathic effect was characterized by growth inhibition, loss of cell processes and syncytium formation. Some cells also rounded up, formed mini cells and became detached from the culture dish. As in primary astrocytes, the processing of gPr80env in the immortalized astrocytes was inefficient. Since the envelope proteins interact with the ecotropic MuLV receptor both intracellularly and on the cell surface and since the receptor has been shown to be an arginine transporter, we attempted to determine the effect of ts1 on arginine uptake by these cells. Our results showed that in both immortalized and primary astrocytes, ts1 infection reduced the uptake of arginine more than did wild-type virus infection. Since arginine localizes predominantly in astrocytes in the CNS and has diverse functions, the decrease of arginine uptake in ts1-infected astrocytes may alter the metabolism of these cells, leading to impairment of their functions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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