Several years ago, a field strain retrovirus, avian hemangioma virus (AHV), was isolated from hemangioma tumors in layer hens. Sequence analysis indicated that the AHV genome contains the three prototypic retroviral genes, gag, pol, and env, and is devoid of an oncogene. In cultured endothelial cells, however, AHV induced a significant cytopathic effect through a typical apoptotic cascade. We now demonstrate that AHV also induces cell proliferation and anchorage-independent growth of BSC-1 epithelial cells and NIH-3T3 fibroblasts. This was shown by measurements of (1) cell viability, (2) DNA synthesis, (3) flow cytometry analysis of the cell DNA content, and (4) clonogenic efficiency of the infected cells. Anchorage-independent cell growth was demonstrated by colony formation in soft agar. Moreover, the AHV env gene was cloned into a MuLV-based retroviral vector, and infection of NIH-3T3 cells with this vector induced cell proliferation as well as clonogenic growth. These results suggest that AHV, which is devoid of an oncogene, is a pleiotropic activator capable of inducing either apoptosis or cellular proliferation, depending on the infected cell type. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the German Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF), the Israeli Ministry of Science, and the German Cancer Research Institute (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany. We thank H. Falk and M. Pick for their help and useful suggestions.