cDNA sequencing confirms HTLV-I expression in adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma and different sequence variations in vivo and in vitro.
Human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) is the etiological agent of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) and of tropical spastic paraparesis/HTLV-I-associated myelopathy (TSP/HAM). In both diseases, expression of viral message can generally only be demonstrated by the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technique. We have previously reported on the the expression of at least four types of alternatively spliced pX mRNAs in vitro and in vivo (1). The sequence variation between HTLV-I pX cDNAs cloned from two different HTLV-I-infected cell lines and from uncultured primary peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from two ATL patients was examined. None of the cDNA clones from one of the ATL samples was completely identical to any of the previously cloned cell line messages, establishing that the demonstration of HTLV-I mRNA in ATL is not the result of PCR contamination. Sequence analysis showed that differences between samples can be clustered according to their geographic origin. Cell line cDNAs showed a more marked sequence drift than ATL cDNAs, especially in the long terminal repeat (LTR), demonstrating association of intrastrain variability with culture in vitro. Intrastrain cDNA variability in vivo also suggests ongoing viral replication in infected individuals. A premature stop codon in the pX-II open reading frame (orf) was a common finding, suggesting that the complete putative pX-II protein is not essential for T-cell immortalization or HTLV-I replication.
Berneman, ZN; Gartenhaus, RB; Reitz, MS; Klotman, ME; Gallo, RC
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