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Moloney murine leukemia virus glyco-gag facilitates xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus replication through human APOBEC3-independent mechanisms

Takayuki Nitta1, Sangouk Lee1, Dat Ha1, Maribel Arias1, Christine A Kozak2 and Hung Fan1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and Cancer Research Institute, University of California, Irvine, CA, 92697-3905, USA

2 Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, MD, 20892-0460, USA

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Retrovirology 2012, 9:58  doi:10.1186/1742-4690-9-58

Published: 24 July 2012

Abstract

Background

One of the unique features of gammaretroviruses is that they contain an additional extended form of Gag, glyco-gag, which initiates in the leader sequence. MuLV glyco-gag, gPr80Gag, promotes retrovirus replication and disease progression. Although virtually all infectious MuLVs encode glyco-gag, XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus) lacks the classical gPr80Gag sequence. We examined XMRV to determine if its leader sequence contains glyco-gag activity, whether the presence of conventional gPr80Gag affects replication of XMRV, and we describe the evolution of glyco-gag-deficient MuLVs in Mus.

Results

We introduced several mutations disrupting two putative but noncanonical glyco-gag proteins in the leader sequence region in XMRV and found that those mutations did not affect virus release nor susceptibility to the antiviral activity of hA3G (human APOBEC3G). A chimeric XMRV encoding the Moloney MuLV (M-MuLV) leader sequence (MXMRV) demonstrated that M-MuLV glyco-gag facilitated MXMRV release and increased infectivity. Infectivity assays with several cell lines showed that glyco-gag increases XMRV infectivity in all cell lines tested, but the level of this increase varies in different cell lines. Because MuLV glyco-gag counteracts mouse APOBEC3, we investigated whether M-MuLV glyco-gag enhances XMRV infection by counteracting human APOBEC3. Comparison of hAPOBEC3 isoforms expressed in different cell lines indicated that hA3B was the most likely candidate for a restrictive hA3. However over-expression of hA3B showed no enhanced restriction of infection by XMRV compared to MXMRV. Endogenous MuLVs in the sequenced mouse genome were screened for canonical glyco-gag, which was identified in two clades of xenotropic MuLVs (X-MuLVs) and ecotropic MuLVs, but not in other X-MuLVs or in any polytropic MuLVs.

Conclusions

M-MuLV glyco-gag facilitates XMRV replication, and the leader sequence region in XMRV does not encode proteins equivalent to M-MuLV glyco-gag. The fact that the ability of glyco-gag to enhance XMRV infection varies in different cell lines suggests a glyco-gag sensitive restrictive factor that further reduces XMRV infectivity. The M-MuLV glyco-gag enhancement for XMRV replication is through a hAPOBEC3 independent mechanism. The absence of glyco-gag in MuLVs carried by western European mice suggests that loss of this sequence is a relatively recent event with limited subspecies distribution.

Keywords:
glyco-gag; M-MuLV; XMRV; APOBEC3; Virus release; Infectivity; Restrictive factor