A novel murine retrovirus identified during testing for helper virus in human gene transfer trials.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of virology, Volume 70, Issue 3, p.1804-9 (1996)


Animals, Cats, Cell Line, Cell Line, Transformed, Cells, Cultured, Hela Cells, Helper Viruses, Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Humans, MICE, Rats, Retroviridae, VIRAL INTERFERENCE, Virus Activation


An important requirement for the use of retroviral vectors in human gene transfer experiments is the avoidance of human exposure to replication-competent (helper) retroviruses. To meet this requirement, we used a sensitive marker rescue assay for helper virus to screen vector-transduced cells prior to reinfusion into patients. This assay utilized Mus dunni cells harboring a retroviral vector that can be rescued by helper retroviruses. The assay indicated the presence of helper virus in medium exposed to hematopoietic cells from all patients tested, including six patients with various cancers and one patient with Gaucher's disease, whether or not the patient cells had been exposed to retroviral vectors. All of the helper viruses were in a single interference group. We have now shown that treatment of the M. dunni marker rescue assay cells with 5-iodo-2'-deoxyuridine or hydrocortisone can activate production of an apparently identical helper virus, which we have named M. dunni endogenous virus (MDEV). Thus, production of virus in the assays of patient materials was likely due to exposure of the marker rescue assay cells to the hydrocortisone present in the hematopoietic cell growth medium. MDEV does not belong to any of the known murine leukemia virus groups by interference analysis, and we have called the new group multitropic because of the wide range of cells from different species that MDEV can infect.