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Free and integrated recombinant murine leukemia virus DNAs appear in preleukemic thymuses of AKR/J mice.
Journal of Virology
We studied the appearance and structure of murine leukemia viral genomes in preleukemic AKR/J mice by Southern hybridization. Up to an average of one to two copies per thymocyte of unintegrated murine leukemia virus DNA appears in the thymuses of preleukemic mice beginning at 4 to 5 months of age and disappears in leukemic thymuses. The free viral genomes are absent in the spleens, livers, and brains of preleukemic mice. Using a series of ecotropic and nonecotropic murine leukemia virus hybridization probes, we showed that the unintegrated viral genomes are structurally analogous to those of recombinant mink cell focus-forming viruses that appear as proviruses in leukemic AKR thymocytes, suggesting that these free viral DNAs are the direct precursors to the leukemia-specific proviruses. The mosaic of ecotropic and nonecotropic sequences within these unintegrated viral DNAs varies from one preleukemic thymus to another but often appears structurally homogeneous within individual thymuses, indicating that often each thymus was being infected by a unique mink cell focus-forming virus. Analysis of high-molecular-weight DNA shows that recombinant proviruses reside in the chromosomal DNA of thymocytes within the preleukemic thymus, with the number rising to an average of several copies per thymocyte, but we do not detect any preferred integration sites. These results suggest that, in general, before the development of thymic leukemias in AKR mice there is a massive infection by a unique mink cell focus-forming virus which then integrates into many different sites of individual thymocytes, one of which grows out to become a tumor.
Animals, DNA, Viral/analysis, DNA, Viral/genetics, Genes, Viral, Leukemia Virus, Murine/genetics, Mice, Mice, Inbred AKR, Nucleic Acid Hybridization, Preleukemia/genetics, Preleukemia/microbiology, Recombination, Genetic, Thymus Gland/microbiology
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