Genetic rearrangements occurring during a single cycle of murine leukemia virus vector replication: characterization and implications.
ABSTRACT: Retroviruses evolve at rapid rates, which is presumably advantageous for responding to selective pressures. Understanding the basic mutational processes involved during retroviral replication is important for comprehending the ability of retroviruses to escape immunosurveillance and antiviral drug treatment. Moreover, since retroviral vectors are important vehicles for somatic cell gene therapy, knowledge of the mechanism of retroviral variation is critical for anticipating untoward mutational events occurring during retrovirus-medicated gene transfer. The focus of this report is to examine the spectrum of genomic rearrangements arising during a single cycle of Moloney murine leukemia virus (MoMLV) vector virus replication. An MoMLV vector containing the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (tk) gene was constructed. MoMLV vector virus was produced in packaging lines, and target cells were infected. From a total of 224 mutant proviruses analyzed, 114 had gross rearrangements readily detectable by Southern blotting. The remaining proviruses were of parental size. PCR and DNA sequence analysis of 73 of the grossly rearranged mutant proviruses indicated they resulted from deletions, combined with insertions, duplications, and complex mutations that were a result of multiple genomic alterations in the same provirus. Complex hypermutations distinct from those previously described for spleen necrosis virus and human immunodeficiency virus were detected. There was a correlation between the mutation breakpoints and single-stranded regions in the predicted viral RNA secondary structure. The results also confirmed that the tk gene is inactivated at an average rate of about 8.8% per cycle of retroviral replication, which corresponds to a rate of mutation of 3%/kbp.
Project description:A protocol was designed to measure the forward mutation rate over an entire gene replicated as part of a Moloney murine leukemia virus-based vector. For these studies, the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (tk) gene under the control of the spleen necrosis virus U3 promoter was used as target sequence since it allows selection for either the functional or the inactivated gene. Our results indicate that after one round of retroviral replication, the tk gene is inactivated at an average rate of 0.08 per cycle of replication. Southern blotting revealed that the majority of the mutant proviruses resulted from gross rearrangements and that deletions of spleen necrosis virus and tk sequences were the most frequent cause of the gene inactivation. Sequence analysis of the mutant proviruses suggested that homologous as well as nonhomologous recombination was involved in the observed rearrangements. Some mutations consisted of simple deletions, and others consisted of deletions combined with insertions. The frequency at which these mutations occurred during one cycle of retroviral replication provides evidence indicating that Moloney murine leukemia virus-based vectors may undergo genetic rearrangement at high rates. The high rate of rearrangement and its relevance for retrovirus-mediated gene transfer are discussed.
Project description:The wild mouse species most closely related to the common laboratory strains contain proviral env genes of the xenotropic/polytropic subgroup of mouse leukemia viruses (MLVs). To determine if the polytropic proviruses of Mus spretus contain functional genes, we inoculated neonates with Moloney MLV (MoMLV) or amphotropic MLV (A-MLV) and screened for viral recombinants with altered host ranges. Thymus and spleen cells from MoMLV-inoculated mice were plated on Mus dunni cells and mink cells, since these cells do not support the replication of MoMLV, and cells from A-MLV-inoculated mice were plated on ferret cells. All MoMLV-inoculated mice produced ecotropic viruses that resembled their MoMLV progenitor, although some isolates, unlike MoMLV, grew to high titers in M. dunni cells. All of the MoMLV-inoculated mice also produced nonecotropic virus that was infectious for mink cells. Sequencing of three MoMLV- and two A-MLV-derived nonecotropic recombinants confirmed that these viruses contained substantial substitutions that included the regions of env encoding the surface (SU) protein and the 5' end of the transmembrane (TM) protein. The 5' recombination breakpoint for one of the A-MLV recombinants was identified in RNase H. The M. spretus-derived env substitutions were nearly identical to the corresponding regions in prototypical laboratory mouse polytropic proviruses, but the wild mouse infectious viruses had a more restricted host range. The M. spretus proviruses contributing to these recombinants were also sequenced. The seven sequenced proviruses were 99% identical to one another and to the recombinants; only two of the seven had obvious fatal defects. We conclude that the M. spretus proviruses are likely to be recent germ line acquisitions and that they contain functional genes that can contribute to the production of replication-competent virus.
Project description:Retroviral replication proceeds through an obligate integrated DNA provirus, making retroviral vectors attractive vehicles for human gene-therapy. Though most of the host cell genome is available for integration, the process of integration site selection is not random. Retroviruses differ in their choice of chromatin-associated features and also prefer particular nucleotide sequences at the point of insertion. Lentiviruses including HIV-1 preferentially integrate within the bodies of active genes, whereas the prototypical gammaretrovirus Moloney murine leukemia virus (MoMLV) favors strong enhancers and active gene promoter regions. Integration is catalyzed by the viral integrase protein, and recent research has demonstrated that HIV-1 and MoMLV targeting preferences are in large part guided by integrase-interacting host factors (LEDGF/p75 for HIV-1 and BET proteins for MoMLV) that tether viral intasomes to chromatin. In each case, the selectivity of epigenetic marks on histones recognized by the protein tether helps to determine the integration distribution. In contrast, nucleotide preferences at integration sites seem to be governed by the ability for the integrase protein to locally bend the DNA duplex for pairwise insertion of the viral DNA ends. We discuss approaches to alter integration site selection that could potentially improve the safety of retroviral vectors in the clinic.
Project description:Retroviruses and retrovirus-derived vectors integrate nonrandomly into the genomes of host cells with specific preferences for transcribed genes, gene-rich regions, and CpG islands. However, the genomic features that influence the transcriptional activities of integrated retroviruses or retroviral vectors are poorly understood. We report here the cloning and characterization of avian sarcoma virus integration sites from chicken tumors. Growing progressively, dependent on high and stable expression of the transduced v-src oncogene, these tumors represent clonal expansions of cells bearing transcriptionally active replication-defective proviruses. Therefore, integration sites in our study distinguished genomic loci favorable for the expression of integrated retroviruses and gene transfer vectors. Analysis of integration sites from avian sarcoma virus-induced tumors showed strikingly nonrandom distribution, with proviruses found prevalently within or close to transcription units, particularly in genes broadly expressed in multiple tissues but not in tissue-specifically expressed genes. We infer that proviruses integrated in these genomic areas efficiently avoid transcriptional silencing and remain active for a long time during the growth of tumors. Defining the differences between unselected retroviral integration sites and sites selected for long-terminal-repeat-driven gene expression is relevant for retrovirus-mediated gene transfer and has ramifications for gene therapy.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are remnants of ancient retroviral infections of the host germline transmitted vertically from generation to generation. It is hypothesized that some ERVs are used by the host as restriction factors to block the infection of pathogenic retroviruses. Indeed, some ERVs efficiently interfere with the replication of related exogenous retroviruses. However, data suggesting that these mechanisms have influenced the coevolution of endogenous and/or exogenous retroviruses and their hosts have been more difficult to obtain. Sheep are an interesting model system to study retrovirus-host coevolution because of the coexistence in this animal species of two exogenous (i.e., horizontally transmitted) oncogenic retroviruses, Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus and Enzootic nasal tumor virus, with highly related and biologically active endogenous retroviruses (enJSRVs). Here, we isolated and characterized the evolutionary history and molecular virology of 27 enJSRV proviruses. enJSRVs have been integrating in the host genome for the last 5-7 million y. Two enJSRV proviruses (enJS56A1 and enJSRV-20), which entered the host genome within the last 3 million y (before and during speciation within the genus Ovis), acquired in two temporally distinct events a defective Gag polyprotein resulting in a transdominant phenotype able to block late replication steps of related exogenous retroviruses. Both transdominant proviruses became fixed in the host genome before or around sheep domestication (approximately 9,000 y ago). Interestingly, a provirus escaping the transdominant enJSRVs has emerged very recently, most likely within the last 200 y. Thus, we determined sequentially distinct events during evolution that are indicative of an evolutionary antagonism between endogenous and exogenous retroviruses. This study strongly suggests that endogenization and selection of ERVs acting as restriction factors is a mechanism used by the host to fight retroviral infections.
Project description:Most retroviruses preferentially integrate into certain genomic locations and, as a result, their genome-wide integration patterns are non-random. We investigate the epigenetic landscape of integrated retroviral vectors and correlate it with the long-term stability of proviral transcription. Retroviral vectors derived from the avian sarcoma/leukosis virus expressing the GFP reporter were used to transduce the human myeloid lymphoblastoma cell line K562. Because of efficient silencing of avian retrovirus in mammalian cells, only ?3% of established clones displayed stable proviral expression. We analyzed the vector integration sites in non-selected cells and in clones selected for the GFP expression. This selection led to overrepresentation of proviruses integrated in active transcription units, with particular accumulation in promoter-proximal areas. In parallel, we investigated the integration of vectors equipped with an anti-silencing CpG island core sequence. Such modification increased the frequency of stably expressing proviruses by one order. The modified vectors are also overrepresented in active transcription units, but stably expressed in distal parts of transcriptional units further away from promoters with marked accumulation in enhancers. These results suggest that integrated retroviruses subject to gradual epigenetic silencing during long-term cultivation. Among most genomic compartments, however, active promoters and enhancers protect the adjacent retroviruses from transcriptional silencing.
Project description:The relative contributions of cell-free virion circulation and direct cell-to-cell transmission to retroviral dissemination and pathogenesis are unknown. Tetherin/Bst2 is an antiviral protein that blocks enveloped virion release into the extracellular milieu but may not inhibit cell-to-cell virus transmission. We developed live-cell imaging assays which show that tetherin does not affect Moloney murine leukemia virus (MoMLV) spread, and only minimally affects vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) spread, to adjacent cells in a monolayer. Conversely, cell-free MLV and VSV virion yields and VSV spread to distal cells were dramatically reduced by tetherin. To elucidate the roles of tetherin and cell-free virions during in vivo viral dissemination and pathogenesis, we developed mice carrying an inducible human tetherin (hTetherin) transgene. While ubiquitous hTetherin expression was detrimental to the growth and survival of mice, restriction of hTetherin expression to hematopoietic cells gave apparently healthy mice. The expression of hTetherin in hematopoietic cells had little or no effect on the number of MoMLV-infected splenocytes and thymocytes. However, hTetherin expression significantly reduced cell-free plasma viremia and also delayed MoMLV-induced disease. Overall, these results suggest that MoMLV spread within hematopoietic tissues and cell monolayers involves cell-to-cell transmission that is resistant to tetherin but that virion dissemination via plasma is inhibited by tetherin and is required for full MoMLV pathogenesis.IMPORTANCE Retroviruses are thought to spread primarily via direct cell-to-cell transmission, yet many have evolved to counteract an antiviral protein called tetherin, which may selectively inhibit cell-free virus release. We generated a mouse model with an inducible tetherin transgene in order to study how tetherin affects retroviral dissemination and on which cell types its expression is required to do so. We first developed a novel in vitro live-cell imaging assay to demonstrate that while tetherin does indeed dramatically reduce cell-free virus spreading, it has little to no effect on direct cell-to-cell transmission of either vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) or the retrovirus MoMLV. Using our transgenic mouse model, we found that tetherin expression on hematopoietic cells resulted in the specific reduction of MoMLV cell-free plasma viremia but not the number of infected hematopoietic cells. The delay in disease associated with this scenario suggests a role for cell-free virus in retroviral disease progression.
Project description:Retroviral vectors based on human foamy virus (HFV) have been developed and show promise as gene therapy vehicles. Here we describe a method for the production of HFV vector stocks free of detectable helper virus. The helper and vector plasmid constructs used both lack the HFV bel genes, so recombination between these constructs cannot create a wild-type virus. A fusion promoter that combines portions of the cytomegalovirus (CMV) immediate-early and HFV long terminal repeat (LTR) promoters was used to drive expression of both the helper and vector constructs. The CMV-LTR fusion promoter allows for HFV vector production in the absence of the Bel-1 trans-activator protein, which would otherwise be necessary for efficient transcription from the HFV LTR. Vector stocks containing either neomycin phosphotransferase or alkaline phosphatase reporter genes were produced by transient transfection at titers greater than 10(5) transducing units/ml. G418-resistant BHK-21 cells obtained by transduction with neo vectors contained randomly integrated HFV vector proviruses without detectable deletions or rearrangements. The vector stocks generated were free of replication-competent retrovirus (RCR), as determined by assays for LTR trans-activation and a marker rescue assay developed here for the detection of Bel-independent RCR.
Project description:Individual groups of retroviruses and retroviral vectors differ in their integration site preference and interaction with the host genome. Hence, immediately after infection genome-wide distribution of integrated proviruses is non-random. During long-term in vitro or persistent in vivo infection, the genomic position and chromatin environment of the provirus affects its transcriptional activity. Thus, a selection of long-term stably expressed proviruses and elimination of proviruses, which have been gradually silenced by epigenetic mechanisms, helps in the identification of genomic compartments permissive for proviral transcription. We compare here the extent and time course of provirus silencing in single cell clones of the K562 human myeloid lymphoblastoma cell line that have been infected with retroviral reporter vectors derived from avian sarcoma/leukosis virus (ASLV), human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) and murine leukaemia virus (MLV). While MLV proviruses remain transcriptionally active, ASLV proviruses are prone to rapid silencing. The HIV provirus displays gradual silencing only after an extended time period in culture. The analysis of integration sites of long-term stably expressed proviruses shows a strong bias for some genomic features-especially integration close to the transcription start sites of active transcription units. Furthermore, complex analysis of histone modifications enriched at the site of integration points to the accumulation of proviruses of all three groups in gene regulatory segments, particularly close to the enhancer loci. We conclude that the proximity to active regulatory chromatin segments correlates with stable provirus expression in various retroviral species.
Project description:The unique ability of retroviruses to integrate genes into host genomes is of great value for long-term expression in gene therapy, but only when integrations occur at safe genomic sites. To reap the benefit of using retroviruses without severe detrimental effects, we developed several murine leukemia virus (MLV)-based gammaretroviral vectors with safer integration patterns by perturbing the structure of the integrase via insertion of DNA-binding zinc-finger domains (ZFDs) into an internal position of the enzyme. ZFD insertion significantly reduced the inherent, strong MLV integration preference for genomic regions near transcriptional start sites (TSSs), which are the most dangerous spots. The altered retroviral integration pattern was related to increased formation of residual primer-binding site sequences at the 3' end of proviruses. Several ZFD insertion mutants showed lower frequencies of integrations into the TSS genome regions when having the residual primer-binding site sequences in the proviruses. Our findings not only can extend the use of retroviruses in biomedical applications, but also provide a glimpse into the mechanisms underlying retroviral integration.