Mechanism of transduction by retroviruses

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Science  14 Feb 1992:
Vol. 255, Issue 5046, pp. 841-845
DOI: 10.1126/science.1371365


Retroviruses can capture cellular sequences and express them as oncogenes. Capture has been proposed to be a consequence of the inefficiency of polyadenylation of the viral genome that allows the packaging of cellular sequences flanking the integrated provirus in virions; after transfer into virions, these sequences could be incorporated into the viral genome by illegitimate recombination during reverse transcription. As a test for this hypothesis, a tissue culture system was developed that mimics the transduction process and allows the analysis and quantitation of capture events in a single step. In this model, transduction of sequences adjacent to a provirus depends on the formation of readthrough transcripts and their transmission in virions and leads to various recombinant structures whose formation is independent of sequence similarity at the crossover site. Thus, all events in the transduction process can be attributed to the action of reverse transcriptase on readthrough transcripts without involving deletions of cellular DNA.

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