The nucleotide sequences of long terminal repeats (LTRs) from several mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) proviruses acquired in mouse T-cell lymphomas were determined. All MMTV proviruses cloned from a C57BL/6 lymphoma contained an identical LTR deletion of 491 base pairs (approximately -655 to -165), whereas an MMTV provirus from a BALB/c T-cell lymphoma had a 430-base-pair deletion in the same U3 region. MMTV proviruses with LTR deletions were acquired in these tumors 10 times more frequently than proviruses with intact LTRs. Because the deletions removed a portion of the glucocorticoid response element or 'regulated' enhancer, the transcriptional activity of the deleted MMTV LTRs was assessed in both transient expression and stable transfection experiments. Plasmids were constructed in which the deleted or full-length MMTV LTRs were placed upstream of the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene. Results from transfection experiments with these constructs showed that the basal expression of the deleted MMTV LTR in the absence of glucocorticoids was higher than that of the full-length Mtv-17 or C3H MMTV LTRs under the same conditions. Moreover, the C3H LTR with a similar deletion (-637 to -225) also promoted high basal levels of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase activity. These results, coupled with the observation in lymphomas of high basal levels of transcription from MMTV proviruses with deleted LTRs, suggested that these proviruses lack negative regulatory elements in their LTRs. Loss of the negative regulatory element may contribute to the selective propagation of proviruses with deleted LTRs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science