Duplication of U3 sequences in the long terminal repeat of mink cell focus-inducing viruses generates redundancies of transcription factor binding sites important for the induction of thymomas

UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Program in Immunology and Virology

Publication Date


Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


The ability of mink cell focus-inducing (MCF) viruses to induce thymomas is determined, in part, by transcriptional enhancers in the U3 region of their long terminal repeats (LTRs). To elucidate sequence motifs important for enhancer function in vivo, we injected newborn mice with MCF 1dr (supF), a weakly pathogenic, molecularly tagged (supF) MCF virus containing only one copy of a sequence that is present as two copies (known as the directly repeated [DR] sequence) in the U3 region of MCF 247 and analyzed LTRs from supF-tagged proviruses in two resulting thymomas. Tagged proviruses integrated upstream and in the reverse transcriptional orientation relative to c-myc provided the focus of our studies. These proviruses are thought to contribute to thymoma induction by enhancer-mediated deregulation of c-myc expression. The U3 region in a tagged LTR in one thymoma was cloned and sequenced. Relative to MCF 1dr (supF), the cloned U3 region contained an insertion of 140 bp derived predominantly from the DR sequence of the injected virus. The inserted sequence contains predicted binding sites for transcription factors known to regulate the U3 regions of various murine leukemia viruses. Similar constellations of binding sites were duplicated in two proviral LTRs integrated upstream from c-myc in a second thymoma. We replaced the U3 sequences in an infectious molecular clone of MCF 247 with the cloned proviral U3 sequences from the first thymoma and generated an infectious chimeric virus, MCF ProEn. When injected into neonatal AKR mice, MCF ProEn was more pathogenic than the parental virus, MCF 1dr (supF), as evidenced by the more rapid onset and higher incidence of thymomas. Molecular analyses of the resultant thymomas indicated that the U3 region of MCF ProEn was genetically stable. These data suggest that the arrangement and/or redundancy of transcription factor binding sites generated by specific U3 sequence duplications are important to the biological events mediated by MCF proviruses integrated near c-myc that contribute to transformation.

DOI of Published Version



J Virol. 2003 Mar;77(5):3326-33.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of virology

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