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Evolution of the equine infectious anemia virus long terminal repeat during the alteration of cell tropism.

ABSTRACT: Equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) is a lentivirus with in vivo cell tropism primarily for tissue macrophages; however, in vitro the virus can be adapted to fibroblasts and other cell types. Tropism adaptation is associated with both envelope and long terminal repeat (LTR) changes, and findings strongly suggest that these regions of the genome influence cell tropism and virulence. Furthermore, high levels of genetic variation have been well documented in both of these genomic regions. However, specific EIAV nucleotide or amino acid changes that are responsible for cell tropism changes have not been identified. A study was undertaken with the highly virulent, macrophage-tropic strain of virus EIAV(wyo) to identify LTR changes associated with alterations in cell tropism. We found the stepwise generation of a new transcription factor binding motif within the enhancer that was associated with adaptation of EIAV to endothelial cells and fibroblasts. An LTR that contained the new motif had enhanced transcriptional activity in fibroblasts, whereas the new site did not alter LTR activity in a macrophage cell line. This finding supports a previous prediction that selection for new LTR genetic variants may be a consequence of cell-specific selective pressures. Additional investigations of the EIAV(wyo) LTR were performed in vivo to determine if LTR evolution could be detected over the course of a 3-year infection. Consistent with previous in vivo findings, we observed no changes in the enhancer region of the LTR over that time period, indicating that the EIAV(wyo) LTR was evolutionarily stable in vivo.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC1082720 | BioStudies | 2005-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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