env Gene of chicken RNA tumor viruses: Extent of conservation in cellular and viral genomes

D. J. Fujita, J. Tal, H. E. Varmus, J. M. Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The env gene of avian sarcoma-leukosis viruses codes for envelope glycoproteins that determine viral host range, antigenic specificity, and interference patterns. We used molecular hybridization to analyze the natural distribution and possible origins of the nucleotide sequences that encode env; our work exploited the availability of radioactive DNA (cDNA(gp)) complementary to most or all of env. env sequences were detectable in the DNAs of chickens which synthesized an env gene product (chick helper factor positive) encoded by an endogenous viral gene and also in the DNAs of chickens which synthesized little or no env gene product (chick helper factor negative). env sequences were not detectable in DNAs from Japanese quail, ring-necked pheasant, golden pheasant, duck, squab, salmon sperm, or calf thymus. The detection of sequences closely related to viral env only in chicken DNA contrasts sharply with the demonstration that the transforming gene (src) of avian sarcoma has readily detectable homologues in the DNAs of all avian species tested [D. Stehelin, H.E. Varmus, J.M. Bishop, and P.K. Vogt, Nature (London) 260:170-173, 1976] and in the DNAs of other vertebrates (D. Spector, personal communication). Thermal denaturation studies on duplexes formed between cDNA(gp) and chicken DNA and also between cDNA(gp) and RNAs of subgroup A to E viruses derived from chickens indicated that these duplexes were well matched. In contrast, cDNA(gp) did not form stable hybrids with RNAs of viruses which were isolated from ring-necked and golden pheasants. We conclude that substantial portions of nucleotide sequences within the env genes of viruses of subgroups A to E are closely related and that these genes probably have a common, perhaps cellular, evolutionary origin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-474
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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