Infectivity of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) in feline and human lymphoblastoid cell lines was examined using homogeneous populations of FIV derived from infectious molecular clones of strains TM2 and Petaluma, and two recombinant chimeric clones carrying gag, pol, vif and ORF-A from the heterologous virus. FIV from the clones with the env region of the Petaluma strain was shown to infect and establish provirus in a human lymphoid cell line (MOLT-4), although the FIV-infected cells did not produce any infectious viruses. By treatment of the infected MOLT-4 cells with a phorbol ester, infectious virus was rescued. To examine which stage of the life-cycle of FIV is blocked in these cells, we analysed transcription of FIV-14 in the cells by RT-PCR. FIV-specific RNA expression could not be detected. These results strongly suggest that latency of the virus in MOLT-4 cells is due to a failure in transcription.
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