The host developing resistance to retroviral infection is believed to be a major force in the evolution of multiple receptor usage by retroviruses. The avian leukosis-sarcoma virus (ALV) group of retroviruses provides a powerful system for studying the envelope-receptor interactions involved in retrovirus entry; different members of this group of closely related viruses use distinct cellular receptors. Analysis of the ALV envelope subgroups suggests that the different ALVs evolved from a common ancestor by mutations in the env gene. Cells and animals that express subgroup A ALV envelope glycoproteins are highly resistant to ALV(A) infection due to receptor interference. In this study, we tested whether expression of a soluble form of subgroup A surface glycoprotein (SU) would result in receptor interference and whether this interference would select for resistant viruses with altered receptor usage. Chicken cells expressing the secreted ALV(A) SU immunoadhesin SU(A)-rlgG, which contains the subgroup A SU domain fused to the constant region of a rabbit immunoglobulin (IgG) heavy chain, showed significant receptor interference. A variant virus resistant to SU(A)-rlgG receptor interference was obtained. This virus had a six-amino-acid deletion in the subgroup A hr1 that altered receptor usage. This approach may identify regions of SU that play a critical role in receptor specificity. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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