Integration of two different avian retroviruses, reticuloendotheliosis virus (REV) and avian leukosis virus (ALV), into the genome of two different avian herpesviruses, the herpesvirus of turkeys (HVT) and Marek's disease virus (MDV), was investigated. Integration events occurred by the fourth and sixth in vitro passage of cells coinfected with REV/HVT and ALV/MDV, respectively. In order to further characterize the integration events, integrated proviruses and surrounding herpesviral genetic material were cloned and analyzed. In the REV/HVT coinfection experiment, one of the three unique integrated proviruses was found to have integrated into the HVT gD gene, resulting in disruption of the coding region of this gene. The two additional unique integrations were localized to the UL and IRL border regions of HVT, two previously described common sites of REV integration into MDV. Interestingly, one of the integrated proviruses in the HVT genome appeared to be full length, was infectious when transfected into CEF cells, and therefore could potentially function to produce infectious REV from an HVT infectious platform. In the ALV/MDV coinfection experiment, one of two unique integrated proviruses was found to have integrated into the gD gene, resulting in disruption of the coding region of this gene. The second unique integration site was in the polyadenylation site of the SORF2 gene at the boundary of the IRs and Us, once again a common site of REV integration into MDV. These results demonstrate that the U/IR-TR border regions of herpesviruses are common sites of retroviral integration. In addition gD, in the Us region of the herpesvirus, is a common site of retroviral integration in multiple herpesvirus, indicating a possible selective advantage for disruption of this gene in the in vitro growth of a herpesvirus. Finally, this is the first instance of a full-length provirus found integrated into a herpesvirus genome, indicating that a retrovirus could alter its route of infection by being carried in a herpesvirus genome.
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