Multiple blocks to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication in rodent cells.
The recent identification of human gene products that are required for early steps in the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) life cycle has raised the possibility that rodents might be engineered to support HIV-1 infection. Therefore, we have examined the ability of modified mouse, rat, and hamster cell lines to support productive HIV-1 replication. Rodent cells, engineered to support Tat function by stable expression of a permissive cyclin T1 protein, proved to be able to support reverse transcription, integration, and early gene expression at levels comparable to those observed in human cell lines. Surprisingly, however, levels of CD4- and coreceptor-dependent virus entry were reduced to a variable but significant extent in both mouse and rat fibroblast cell lines. Additional posttranscriptional defects were observed, including a reduced level of unspliced HIV-1 genomic RNA and reduced structural gene expression. Furthermore, the HIV-1 Gag precursor is generally inefficiently processed and is poorly secreted from mouse and rat cells in a largely noninfectious form. These posttranscriptional defects, together, resulted in a dramatically reduced yield of infectious virus (up to 10,000-fold) over a single cycle of HIV-1 replication, as compared to human cells. Interestingly, these defects were less pronounced in one hamster cell line, CHO, which not only was able to produce infectious HIV-1 particles at a level close to that observed in human cells, but also could support transient, low-level HIV-1 replication. Importantly, the blocks to infectious virus production in mouse and rat cells are recessive, since they can be substantially suppressed by fusion with uninfected human cells. These studies imply the existence of one or more human gene products, either lacking or nonfunctional in most rodent cells that are critical for infectious HIV-1 virion morphogenesis.
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