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 fur anticipating untoward mutational events occurring during retrovirus-mediated 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 thyroidine 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 blurting. 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, 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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science