Posttranslational modifications distinguish the envelope glycoprotein of the immunodeficiency disease-inducing feline leukemia virus retrovirus

M. L. Poss, J. I. Mullins, E. A. Hoover

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The envelope glycoprotein (gp70) of a molecularly cloned, replication-defective feline leukemia virus (FeLV-FAIDS clone 61C) carries determinants for induction of fatal immunodeficiency disease, whereas the gp70 of its companion replication-competent, probably parent virus (clone 61E) does not. Immunoprecipitation analysis of the extracellular glycoproteins of 61E and EECC, a replication-competent viral construct composed of the 61C env and 3' long terminal repeat fused to the 61E gag-pol genes, demonstrated that the gp70 of EECC could be distinguished from that of 61E by both feline immune serum and a murine monoclonal antibody. Molecular weights of both the envelope precursor polyprotein (gp80) and the mature extracellular glycoprotein (gp70) of 61E were smaller than the corresponding proteins from the pathogenic EECC. Both the molecular weight disparity and monoclonal antibody discrimination of the two gp80s were abolished by inhibition of envelope protein glycosylation with tunicamycin, whereas the apparent gp70 size differences were resolved by enzymatic removal of N-linked oligosaccharides. Pulse-chase studies in EECC-infected cells demonstrated that processing of gp80 to gp70 was delayed and that this retardation of envelope glycoprotein processing could be simulated in 61E-infected cells by treatment with the glucosidase inhibitor N-methyldeoxynojirimycin, a compound that causes retention of oligosaccharides in the high-mannose form. The resultant 61E gp70 then could be recognized by sera from EECC-immunized cats. The presence of a higher content of sialic acid on the apathogenic 61E gp70 indicated that oligosaccharides of 61E and EECC gp70 were processed differently. These data suggested that the unique biochemical properties which distinguish the envelope glycoproteins of the FeLV-FAIDS variant from its companion apathogenic parent virus were responsible for T-cell cytopathicity and induction of immunodeficiency disease. Further biochemical characterization of these glycoproteins should be useful in understanding the pathogenic mechanisms of immunodeficiency disease induced by retroviruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-195
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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