Letter | Published:

Transforming genes of neoplasms induced by avian lymphoid leukosis viruses

Abstract

Oncogenic avian retroviruses can be classified into three groups: sarcoma viruses, acute leukaemia viruses and lymphoid leukosis viruses (LLVs)1. Sarcoma and acute leukaemia viruses transform fibroblasts and/or haematopoietic cells in culture and induce tumours with short latent periods in infected birds. In contrast, LLVs do not transform cells in vitro and require long latent periods before formation of neoplasms in vivo. The most frequent neoplasm induced by LLVs is malignant lymphoma of the bursa of Fabricius, but LLVs also induce other neoplasms, including sarcomas, nephroblastomas and erythroblastosis2. The genomes of both sarcoma and acute leukaemia viruses contain specific genes responsible for viral oncogenicity1,3–5, whereas the genome of LLVs apparently includes only genes required for virus replication. The genetic basis for the low oncogenic potential of LLVs is therefore obscure. The present experiments indicate that LLV-induced tumours contain transforming genes that can be detected by transfection of NIH 3T3 mouse cells. These transforming genes are not linked to LLV DNA sequences, suggesting that oncogenesis by LLVs may result from indirect activation of cellular transforming genes.

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