HPRS-103, the prototype of avian leukosis virus (ALV) subgroup J, is a recently identified retrovirus associated with myeloid leukosis in meat-type chickens. Although this virus shows high sequence identity to other ALV subgroups within the gag and pol genes, its env gene is highly diverged (with only about 40% sequence identity) from other ALV subgroups. On the other hand, the sequence of the env gene of HPRS-103 was 75% identical to that of E51, a member of the EAV family of endogenous avian retroviruses. It is reported here that the chicken genome also contains another EAV-related element, EAV-HP, showing much greater sequence identity (over 97%) to the HPRS-103 env gene. Southern blotting analysis showed that EAV-HP-related sequences were distinct from EAV-O and were present in all lines of chicken examined and in grey jungle fowl, but were absent from several other avian species. The potential role of these endogenous sequences in the evolution of ALV subgroup J viruses is discussed.


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