Since bovine leukemia virus (BLV) replicates in B-lymphocytes, viral expression and production should respond to agents activating these cells. We asked whether synthesis of BLV capsid (CA) protein and production of infectious virus would increase when peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from infected sheep were stimulated in short-term culture with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a polyclonal activator of B-cells, and compared its effects with those of phytohemagglutinin (PHA), a lymphocyte activator known to increase BLV expression. LPS treatment of PBMCs from asymptomatic sheep that had been infected for 1-4 years increased the number of cells synthesizing CA protein, the amount of CA protein per cell, and the number of PBMCs acting as infectious centers. LPS derived from several different microbes was effective. During the ensuing 4 years of asymptomatic infection, the number of PBMCs expressing virus under minimal stimulation increased for each animal. The ability of LPS to recruit additional cells to express CA protein remained constant or decreased in magnitude, yet at the same time, lower concentrations of LPS were required to elicit a maximal effect. This suggests that the cellular pathways affected by LPS are endogenously more activated as infection progresses. PHA initially stimulated fewer cells to synthesize BLV CA protein than LPS did although the amount of CA protein synthesized per cell was greater with PHA. As infection progressed, PHA surpassed LPS in the numbers of PBMCs induced to express CA protein. This suggests that the cellular pathways affected by PHA become more responsive to its effects as infection progresses. LPS increased CA expression early and transiently during culture whereas the PHA-mediated increase continued to develop for several days. Thus, LPS increases BLV expression but does so differently than PHA. Moreover, these longitudinal results show that the activation state of BLV-infected cells changes as asymptomatic infection progresses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases