A chimeric avian retrovirus containing the influenza virus hemagglutinin gene has an expanded host range

Jianyun Dong, Michael G. Roth, Eric Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


We have investigated what protein sequences are necessary for glycoprotein incorporation into Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) virions by utilizing the hemagglutinin (HA) protein of influenza virus. Two chimeric HA genes were constructed. In the first the coding sequence for the signal peptide of the RSV env gene product was fused in frame to the entire HA structural gene, and in the second the hydrophobic anchor and cytoplasmic domain sequences of the HA gene were also replaced with those from the RSV env gene. Both chimeric genes, expressed from a simian virus 40 expression vector in CV-1 cells, yielded functional HA proteins that were transported to the cell surface and were able to bind to erythrocytes. When the genes were expressed in combination with the RSV gag-pol gene region in QT6 cells by using a vaccinia virus-T7 expression/complementation system, virions that efficiently incorporated either chimeric protein were assembled. This result indicated that the presence of the RSV env membrane anchor and cytoplasmic sequences did not facilitate HA glycoprotein incorporation into virions. The presence of the RSV env signal sequence allowed the chimeric HA genes to be substituted into the RSV-derived BH-RCAN.HiSV viral genome in place of the RSV env gene. Both chimeric genomes yielded infectious virus that could infect human and avian cells with equal efficiency. These experiments demonstrate that a foreign glycoprotein, efficiently incorporated into virions lacking a native glycoprotein, can confer a broadened host range on the virus. Moreover, because the HA of influenza virus requires the acidic pH of the endosome in order to be activated, these results imply that foreign proteins can modify the normal route of entry of this avian retrovirus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7374-7382
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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