Marek' disease virus serotype-1, also know as Gallid herpesvirus 2 (GaHV-2), elicits T-cell lymphomas in chickens. The GaHV-2 genome encodes an oncoprotein, Meq, with similarity to the Jun/Fos family of proteins. We have previously shown that Meq homodimers are not sufficient to induce lymphomas in chickens. In this study, we investigated the role of Meq heterodimers in the pathogenicity of GaHV-2 by generating a chimeric meq gene, which contains the leucine zipper region of Fos (meqFos). A recombinant virus containing the meqFos gene in place of parental meq, rMd5-MeqFos, was not capable of transforming chicken lymphocytes, indicating that heterodimerization of Meq alone is not sufficient for transformation. In addition, the recovery of the oncogenic phenotype by a recombinant virus encoding one copy each of MeqGCN (homodimer) and MeqFos (heterodimer) conclusively demonstrates that both homo and heterodimerization of Meq are required for oncogenesis.
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