Efficient cell infection by Moloney murine leukemia virus-derived particles requires minimal amounts of envelope glycoprotein

Bachrach, E.; Marin, M.; Pelegrin, M.; Karavanas, G.; Piechaczyk, M.

J Virol

2000-09 / vol 74 / pages 8480-6


Retrovirus entry into cells is mediated by specific interactions between the retrovirally encoded Env envelope glycoprotein and a host cell surface receptor. Though a number of peptide motifs responsible for the structure as well as for the binding and fusion activities of Env have been identified, only a few quantitative data concerning the infection process are available. Using an inducible expression system, we have expressed various amounts of ecotropic and amphotropic Env at the surfaces of Moloney murine leukemia virus-derived vectors and assayed for the infectivity of viral particles. Contrary to the current view that numerous noncooperative Env-viral receptor interactions are required for cell infection, we report here that very small amounts of Env are sufficient for optimal infection. However, increasing Env density clearly accelerates the rate at which infectious attachment to cells occurs. Moreover, our data also show that a surprisingly small number of Env molecules are sufficient to drive infection, albeit at a reduced efficiency, and that, under conditions of low expression, Env molecules act cooperatively. These observations have important consequences for our understanding of natural retroviral infection as well as for the design of cell-targeted infection techniques involving retroviral vectors.

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Humans; Animals; Mice; Protein Binding; Flow Cytometry; Immunoblotting; Transfection; Tumor Cells, Cultured; Genes, Reporter; 3T3 Cells; beta-Galactosidase/genetics/metabolism; Gene Products, env/*metabolism; Luciferases/genetics/metabolism; Moloney murine leukemia virus/metabolism/*pathogenicity

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