The Friend spleen focus-forming virus (SFFV) env gene encodes a glycoprotein with apparent M(r) of 55,000 that binds to erythropoietin receptors (EpoR) to stimulate erythroblastosis. A retroviral vector that does not encode any Env glycoprotein was packaged into retroviral particles and was coinjected into mice in the presence of a nonpathogenic helper virus. Although most mice remained healthy, one mouse developed splenomegaly and polycythemia at 67 days; the virus from this mouse reproducibly caused the same symptoms in secondary recipients by 2 to 3 weeks postinfection. This disease, which was characterized by extramedullary erythropoietin- independent erythropoiesis in the spleens and livers, was also reproduced in long-term bone marrow cultures. Viruses from the diseased primary mouse and from secondary recipients converted an erythropoietin-dependent cell line (BaF3/EpoR) into factor-independent derivatives but had no effect on the interleukin-3-dependent parental BaF3 cells. Most of these factor- independent cell clones contained a major Env-related glycoprotein with an M(r) of 60,000. During further in vivo passaging, a virus that encodes an M(r)-55,000 glycoprotein became predominant. Sequence analysis indicated that the ultimate virus is a new SFFV that encodes a glycoprotein of 410 amino acids with the hallmark features of classical gp55s. Our results suggest that SFFV-related viruses can form in mice by recombination of retroviruses with genomic and helper virus sequences and that these novel viruses then evolve to become increasingly pathogenic.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science