Biochemistry Retrovirus insertion into herpesvirus in vitro and in vivo

Robert Isfort, Dan Jones, Rhonda Kost, Richard Witter, Hsing-Jien Kung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Retroviruses and herpesviruses are naturally occurring pathogens of humans and animals. Coinfection of the same host with both these viruses is common. We report here that a retrovirus can integrate directly into a herpesvirus genome. Specifically, we demonstrate insertion of a nonacute retrovirus, reticuloendotheliosis virus (REV), into a herpesvirus, Marek disease virus (MDV). Both viruses are capable of inducing T lymphomas in chickens and often coexist in the same animal. REV DNA integration into MDV occurred in a recently attenuated strain of MDV and in a short-term coinfection experiment in vitro. We also provide suggestive evidence that REV has inserted into pathogenic strains of MDV in the past. Sequences homologous to the REV long terminal repeat are found in oncogenic MDV but not in nononcogenic strains. These results raise the possibility that retroviral information may be transmitted by herpesvirus and that herpesvirus expression can be modulated by retroviral elements. In addition, retrovirus may provide a useful tool to characterize herpesviral function by insertional mutagenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)991-995
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Long terminal repeat
  • Marek disease virus
  • Reticuloendotheliosis virus
  • T lymphoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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