RRV, the rhesus macaque equivalent to HHV-8 or kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) was recently isolated from a simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infected macaque with a lymphoproliferative disorder. The growth of RRV in tissue culture requires propagation of primary rhesus monkey fibroblasts (RFs). In an effort to extend the life of these primary cells in tissue culture, the catalytic subunit of telomerase (hTERT) was introduced into RF cells using a recombinant retrovirus. This new cell line, Telo-RFs, have currently been passed in tissue culture over 80 times compared to a maximum passage number of 38 for wild type RFs, remain fully permissive for RRV DNA replication and production of infectious virus. Viral gene expression of immediate-early and early RNA transcripts was virtually identical to that observed in wild-type (wt) RFs. In addition, transfection experiments show that telo-RFs are easily and more efficiently transfected than wtRFs.
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