Immunochemical and immunocytochemical techniques have been used to characterize viral glycoproteins and endogenous rat leukaemia viruses (RaLV) produced both by Novikoff hepatocellular carcinoma cells and spontaneously transformed Wistar rat embryo cells (WRC). Results from immunocytochemical analysis demonstrated that RaLV produced by Novikoff and WRC cells could be distinguished by their unique patterns of reactivity with xenoantisera raised against virus particles or viral glycoproteins. This differential labelling was unexpected since all the antisera tested had been shown by immunoprecipitation and immunodepletion analysis to be reactive with viral glycoproteins expressed on the cell surface. Since no significant differences in cell surface-associated viral glycoproteins and those shed from the cell surface were detected by pulse iodination analysis, it was concluded that the apparent discrepancy between immunoferritin labelling and immunoprecipitation analysis resulted from differences in antigen accessibility on intact virions caused by structural differences in the viral glycoproteins expressed on Novikoff and WRC cells. This conclusion was supported by results from ferritin-lectin labelling, affinity chromatography and neuraminidase digestion studies which demonstrated differences in the saccharide moieties on both virion and cell surface-associated viral glycoproteins. Further evidence of structural differences was provided by limited digestion with trypsin and V8 protease of the 64000 (Nov gp64) and 68000 (WRC gp68) viral glycoproteins immunoprecipitated from Novikoff and WRC cells, respectively, with either monospecific anti-Rauscher murine leukaemia virus anti-gp70 serum or monospecific antiserum against Nov gp64 (anti-gp64). Results from digestion studies showed that all the major cleavage fragments from WRC gp68 were of higher molecular weight than their Nov gp64-derived counterparts. Evidence that Nov gp64 and WRC gp68 both share structural homology with other murine viral gp70s was suggested by results from immunoprecipitation analysis with anti-gp70 and anti-gp64 sera under reducing and non-reducing conditions which demonstrated the presence of an interchain disulphide bond in both glycoproteins and showed that at least some of these molecules exist on the cell surface as disulphide-linked heterodimers of 78000 and 82000.

Keyword(s): envelope , glycoprotein and RaLV

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